Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 142
[Dear Buddha, we pray that you receive and guide him to the pure, carefree Buddhas’ lands. May he have no suffering or worries, but rather receive only happiness. We wish the same for his descendants, relatives, and good friends from all over. He is respectfully waiting for your great concern, protection, and care while we respectfully wait for you to receive, guide, and enlighten us.]
Black Mamba sang the chant with sincerity. The Kukri and Dragunov, which had been bloodied by countless people, created a beat that rang across the red terrain for a long time.
He didn’t know whether the bloodied song for the soul would be of help or curse them instead. It was but a form of tradition and comfort created by humans, so what was the point of debate!
Whether Mike was a racist or a troublemaker, death was fair. Everyone was born differently, but death came to all equally.
Death marked the end of a presence and all provocations. What was the point of fighting and creating discourse in a life that didn’t last a hundred years!
The sad song, which sounded as though it’d end, created a strange resonance with a thick ringing coming from the empty barrel. The unfortunate feeling of sending the dead and the heavy atmosphere overwhelmed the members’ hearts.
There was a story for everyone, whether the person was white or a benefactor. The faces of parents and siblings, and the sights of their hometowns that were once forgotten came to mind. They were of different races and nationalities, but all the mercenaries soon teared up.
“Hm, hm, it’s a suitable funeral for a place of the dead like the Sahel,” Pieff murmured as he wiped his tears away.
He was the person who’d shoved his subordinates to death, blinded by the idea of promotion. He had buried 10s of his beloved subordinates in the Sahel. The life he’d led in confidence until then, seemed meaningless.
Even Sun WooHyun, who was a Tubilis, teared up.
He had spent the majority of his years trying to rise through the ranks, therefore living like a violent gang member. Memories of his mother who’d died in his youth, and his father who must have been shot by now, flashed by. He could almost see his hometown’s mountains and rivers accompanied by beautiful hills and clear water.
“Damn it, what the hell is that? Is it a song or a rhyme?”
In the end, a tear rolled down his cheek.
Mike’s suicide forced the Captain to make his decision.
They had spent 40 days at the height of their nervousness. All of the team members were at the limits of their battle-induced stress. There wasn’t anything that could prevent a second Mike from happening.
Truthfully, Mike’s death had been brought about by Ombuti’s sharp words. He was a strong ranger from the strongest country in the world, the USA. He hadn’t been able to control his anger when the old local, who was lower than him in position, mocked him. The Captain, who didn’t know the truth, could only worry himself in fear.
“Bellman, how are the mercenaries?”
“It’s not good. Emil still has diarrhea. The diarrhea took up much of his strength, which led to hypothermia. Jang Shin has been struggling with fever and vomit since yesterday. I think it’s dysentery.”
Emil had regained his strength from Black Mamba’s Soul-Returning Pain Administration, but Bellman wasn’t aware.
“Dysentery? Is there any medication for that?”
The Captain’s face turned dark. Dysentery was a minor disease in a developed society. It could be easily avoided by looking after one’s own hygiene, and when treated fast. Shigella bacteria were highly contagious. In a field with poor medical systems, the entire unit would be rendered incompetent.
“I’ve given him sulfamethoxazole and ofloxacin, but neither showed much improvement.”
“What about the others?”
“Valboir, Centienne, Bronin, and Maxim aren’t doing well either. They’re suffering from PTSD.”
“How are they suffering from PTSD when they haven’t even been in battle!” The Captain’s voice grew louder.
Bellman smiled bitterly. The members that Pieff had led were feeling helpless from what the Captain had pointed out.
“Their physical capabilities have decreased immensely, so there are plenty of chances for that to lead to diseases and mental health issues. It’s at least a relief that Lt. commander Pieff’s recovery has sped up.”
“Don’t even talk about that man. Damn it. You’re basically saying that everyone is sick except for Black Mamba. You don’t look too good, either.”
Bellman gazed blankly into the distance. He was suffering from hallucinations. Long-term pressure on mental health caused disharmony between the outer and inner senses. That was PTSD. It also was the brink of madness.
Bellman, who considered the cause of dysentery to be from contaminated water, began to limit drinking water. However, he came across an obstacle. There were enough water filters but not enough disinfectants.
Ombuti helped with all that he could. He used the tarp to make distilled water and gathered Nara calabash to treat the mercenaries with dehydration.
Nara calabash was a fruit from the Nara vines, which grew in sandy lands, and was about the size of two adult fists. Nara vines were a special kind of plant that sourced for water between the Namib Desert and the Sahel, reaching 10s of meters underground. It was an amazing plant that could survive without water for a year.
“Bellman, try giving the members this.”
Bellman looked suspiciously at the unknown, sticky sap that Ombuti gave him. It had a tacky red color and a horrible smell.
“What is this?”
“It is fresh fenestratum sap. It is often used by my tribe’s ritual head as medicine. It cleans contaminated water and is great for killing parasites.”
Bellman frowned. Bronin, who had been standing beside him, also shook his head.
“I know how unbelievable those African ritualistic treatments are amongst tribe pontiffs. I cannot give a strange plant to the members when we don’t even know if it’s poisonous or not.”
When Bellman expressed his denial, Ombuti’s face darkened.
“Good job, Ombuti.”
Black Mamba, who had been watching, received the plastic case in which the sap had been contained and drank from it.
He gave the canteen to the Captain. The Captain drank some and handed it over to Valboir. Valboir shook his head and passed it to Maxim. Those who ended up drinking the sap were the Captain, Sun WooHyun, and Pieff. Everyone else had refused, as the sap smelled horrible and looked disgusting.
It was time to move at dawn. The Captain and Bellman approached Black Mamba while he was tidying up his sleeping bag.
“Black, we have a problem.”
“How can there be a problem when we’re in one?”
Black Mamba stopped moving his hands and stared at the duo.
“All the members are suffering from stomachaches. It was the water, I presume.”
“Weren’t there already symptoms since a few days ago?”
“Their conditions suddenly got worse. Jang Shin and Centienne are excreting blood.”
Black Mamba made an awkward expression. Dysentery could be solved with a few days of good rest alongside some pain relievers. The fact that they didn’t have time for treatment was the problem.
“You should have listened to Ombuti in the first place. There are rules in the Sahel. Modern medical science isn’t everything.”
Bellman, who couldn’t refute, looked at the Captain for a while before sighing. He had nothing to say as he’d refused the fenestratum sap Ombuti had worked hard to get.
“Ha, so you’re saying that there’s no one but the lackey and the Captain who can fight.”
Black Mamba sighed automatically. The FROLINAT wasn’t their only enemy. The Sahel’s environment was a much more fearful enemy.
“Black, should I give them that strange sap Ombuti got?”
“There’s a Korean saying that goes, there’s medicine to be found in poison. You should apologize to Ombuti and ask him for help. Bellman may be a good doctor, but modern medicine isn’t everything.”
“I hate this. I hate this red land,” Bellman complained as he left his place.
The Captain sought Black Mamba’s advice with a dark expression.
“Black, what do you think we should do?”
Black Mamba’s emotionless eyes were fixed on the Captain’s thin face.
“I always recommended a straight-up breakthrough.”
“Didn’t we already fail?”
“Why do you insist on Kanem’s route? We can head straight towards Bata province and fall sideways into Ati. We may have to take the long way around, but Ati is a larger city than Paya. We can call for a helicopter in Ati.”
Black Mamba made a line with his finger on the map.
The Captain slapped his forehead with his palm.
“Ugh, you’re right.”
The thought of escaping had him missing the other routes. Bata was a stand-off region. Neither the government nor the enemy had been able to hold a footing. It was also a place where neither cared. The headquarters’ fifth line had been organized, so all their problems would be resolved once communications got through. For the first time in a long while, the Captain smiled.
The members drank the fenestratum sap and rested for an entire day. No, everyone had fainted. Black Mamba and Ombuti were left with no choice but to stand guard. Not even the Captain was in a situation to stop them.
The full moon embedded in the middle of the night, and the stars which filled the spaces, lit up the surroundings. Nighttime in the Sahel was filled with mystical sights, and it was the only time when the sandstorms were asleep. They had been sent off for a mission last month. It had been over a month and 10 days since they had wandered around the Sahel.
“Wakil, are you uncomfortable anywhere?”
“I’m always great, thanks to you, Ombuti. I’m always grateful.”
“I’m doing something any servant should do. Only when you are alive, Wakil, could everyone return.”
“Ombuti, I’m an average Korean. I have limits too.”
“Wakil is the Azrael. No one can stop the Azrael’s path.”
Ombuti, whose face was like the skin of a small tree, smiled. His Wakil was always humble despite his age.
“I’m a little, special Korean. I’m not the Kanma or the Azrael.”
“Of course. You’re just the Wakil to me. Use lackey Ssun as your subordinate. He is the best warrior. There’s no warrior like Ssun in the Tuareg tribe, either.”
“There are a lot of warriors in Korea. There are several 1,000s of warriors like Ssun.”
Ombuti was shocked. It was an amazing story to hear that there were 1,000s of warriors like Ssun.
It wasn’t a lie. There were over 10,000 North Korean special forces agents like Ssun. There was similarly a large amount in South Korea. When comparing the military’s training regime and numbers, the Korean Peninsula was the first in the world.
“Then, armed guerrillas and desert robbers wouldn’t be able to set foot in Korea.”
“Right. No bad people wandered the streets at night. Even a young lady can walk the streets alone at night.”
He wasn’t wrong. Black Mamba couldn’t bear to say that those who remained outside after curfew were either brought to prison or the Three-Department’s Educational Center.
“Oh, Allah, there’s nothing more like heaven.”
Ombuti was truly impressed. How could there be a country on Earth where a woman could freely walk around alone at night! That deserved to be called heaven.
“Do you have any other family members?”
“I have an uncle and a cousin, but I don’t know where they are. The civil war has ruined everything.”
Ombuti’s face lined with creases as he wore a melancholy expression.
“There’s no sanctuary. War is a pitiful thing. I’ve also lost my friends due to the war’s effects. I’ve mentioned something unneeded. Sorry.”
Ombuti shook his hand.
“No, it’s no problem. Wakil cannot apologize. Wakil is a special person. I can see Allah’s blessing clinging onto Wakil’s soul. Wakil is someone who will do great things in this land.”
“Haha, how can a b*stard who can’t take care of himself do great things?” Black Mamba laughed.
He was the idiot who’d been chased out of his hometown and had parted from his lover after being accused of rape.
“Wakil is too humble. I will spend the rest of my life cleaning Wakil’s shoes.”
“Ugh!” Black Mamba automatically sighed.
Ombuti’s unbreakable loyalty only brought sighs.
“Why’s that human not sleeping and coming over?”
He could sense a human approaching the sentry point.
“What are you going to do with me?” Sun WooHyun shouted out of the blue.
Sun WooHyun was the living example of a traitor who was without a safety line. He’d washed his hands off the FAP and couldn’t return to his country. He was in a situation where he’d be arrested upon arrival in Libya. There was nowhere for him to go.
Sun WooHyun was good at reading the situation, like a ghost. Seeing how things had run over the past few days had him realizing that Black Mamba was the evil mastermind of all masterminds.