Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 383
“Kuachi, we managed to pull through the infamous Rwenzori without a single loss thanks to your gears. You did well.”
“It has been a pleasure, sir. This is all thanks to the Special Military Advisor and Samedi, anyways. I feel like I’ve been more of a burden than an aid. It’s embarrassing,” Lieutenant Paul shook his head at Paul’s praise.
He had managed to avoid losing the vehicles and sending a rescue signal thanks to two supernatural people who went beyond the limits of humans. In fact, the reason he was alive was because of those two. If they hadn’t existed, he would have been shot to death by a bee, killed by a poisonous snake, fallen into a swamp and died, or fallen off a cliff and died.
“Those friends are from Legion Etranger too. Legion Etrangers aren’t ashamed of getting help from comrades. If it hadn’t been for Legion Etranger, who else would have made a 420km path through the harshest conditions of East Africa in two days? You can take that belt off and drink.”
“Act! I’ll be right back after kicking that cook’s butt.”
“Hehe, to think that I’ll taste a giant Piranha Meunière (a French dish where a headless and tailless fish is cooked in flour and butter) in Africa.”
Paul, who had an everlasting appetite, licked his lips. Not only Paul, but all mercenaries had a huge appetite. Males whose lives are threatened instinctively get increased sexual desire and appetite.
The cook used a large banana leaf as a serving plate and heaved a giant piranha dish onto the field table.
“Ola, the scent which rings one’s soul!” Paul smiled as though he was about to cheer.
“Lieutenant, sir, if someone kicks the cook’s butt, we spit on the dish. You won’t enjoy a spit-filled dish, now, would you?” The cook scolded. He had good hearing.
“Damn it, you heard me?” Kuachi’s face grew dark.
Now he was fated to eat spit-spat food.
“Chef Sergeant, forgive our lieutenant, hm? Both humans and animals growl when they’re hungry.”
“That is true. Kekeke!” The cook laughed as though he understood.
Paul used a knife and a branch to take a piece of the fish, then made an awed expression.
“Oh, heavens on my tongue. You can give Montparnasse’s flounder meunière to the dogs. I should become a Semuliki fisherman instead of a mercenary.”
“Ha, right! It tastes good, though,” Black Mamba laughed.
He couldn’t imagine Paul reeling up a fishhook when he was a mercenary down to his bones. The fish dish with parsley sauce, however, deserved Paul’s praise.
“It’s because of the amazing ingredient you got us, Special Military Advisor. Sciaccarello is the best accompaniment for fish dishes,” the cook said in a brighter mood and handed him a wine flask.
“Oh, Sciaccarello!” Black Mamba said in glee.
Screams erupted. The mercenaries had been drinking even before the cook took the Sciaccarello out, opening up cans. The three fish Black Mamba caught were more than enough to feed everyone. Mercenaries don’t worry themselves over tomorrow.
“Black, no, Dubaiburupa. Ugh, I keep forgetting. We’ll be arriving at Camp Bunia tomorrow morning. There are over 2,000 Mai Mai forces from the east of Lake Albert, where the Ituri Jungle begins. Don’t you think you’ll need fire support?”
“Samedi’s enough as fire support. The problem is the captives. Humans can’t live well in deserts or jungles. I’m more concerned about the people I need to save, not the people I need to get rid of. They’ve been kidnapped for six months already. While it will be fortunate if they’re alive…,” Black Mamba trailed off. Red tape and overwhelming pride were the French military’s incurable diseases. Stubborn Germaine had called him in too late.
“France’s main enemy isn’t the Warsaw pact but the media and public opinion. A military leader had lost the golden time trying to fend off criticisms due to sheer stubbornness. Not even the Heads of all those departments would believe in the hostages’ survival. They must want to keep face by saving at least a portion. There is no need to force yourself.”
“While the government failed to succeed, it still tried to save its people despite great losses in both money and manpower. I’m truly envious of France.”
Black Mamba poked at the bonfire with a stick. Sparks shot up and flickered in the night sky like fireflies. He felt bitter. The Korean government had ignored the soldiers who were held captive in North Korea. The Department of Foreign Affairs was nothing but a tour guide to politicians and members of the parliament. Korea was the country that ignored the signal that an escaped captive soldier had sent from a third-world country. Who would raise their guns for Korea if that continues?
“Great Master, we’re 70km to Bunia. If we take route 27 north at dawn, we’ll arrive within three hours. Do you have further orders?” Ulumbo asked carefully.
He wasn’t glancing at Black Mamba anymore. His careless personality from their first day had disappeared, too. He was being called Great Master now. He was an innately sly man.
“Ulumbo, you report and receive orders from the captain. Go take your break.” Black Mamba said, coldly sending him away.
“Don’t be too mean. The weak ones are wired to instinctively follow the strong,” Paul smiled a bitter smile.
There wasn’t a never-ending party. The fire died and darkness pressed over the camp. Black Mamba slid into the Goatex-made sleeping bag.
The jungle woke the deeper the night grew. The sound of the hunter and the hunted, the sharp screams of some unknown animals, the sound of Semuliki River’s fierce waters, and the sound of insects chewing through leaves kept the night awake.
Black Mamba slept well despite the cries of predators and sliding poisonous snakes ringing in his ears. As long as Samedi, the greatest predator of all, was next to him there wasn’t a reason for him to be alert. Mercenaries had to rest when they could. Gathering energy is the first step towards a successful mission.
Like Ulumbo had guaranteed, once they set out at the break of dawn the team met their morning at Bunia’s base camp. This was three days since they had gathered at Bukavu’s airfield. The relief team gathered weapons that Black Mamba needed at the base camp and gave him information. They would only leave when Black Mamba finished the mission or ended up dead.
The agents who had been waiting at the base camp greeted them, “Act, I’m the team leader of Barakuta of the Intelligence Department, Holland.”
“Those bastards’ recent tracks?”
“They came into contact with the Pygmy tribe in Mambasa.”
Black Mamba inputted Mambasa into the GPS.
“That’s 190km west from here.”
“Yes, sir. We lost contact with the agent the moment he sent in the information.”
“Amen! Did you figure out their numbers and equipment?”
“We presume they’re a company at least. There aren’t traces of any firepower or explosives yet.”
“It seems like DGSE likes to predict things. You got the orders to support me in this mission if I so desire, right?”
The intelligence department liked presuming too much, both the old and young. Black Mamba decided to scare the man a little as a joke.
“Y, yes, sir.” Blood drained from Holland’s face.
Ituri was the graveyard for intelligence agents. He, too, nearly died several times. He would rather resign than enter the infamous Ituri Jungle again.
“Ulumbo, do you know Mambasa?” Black Mamba turned to look at his guide.
“Of course, sir. It’s a region with five scattered Pygmy tribes. It’s a ten-day walk from here.”
“Good, team leader Holland, you wait here.”
“Act!” Holland, who was breathing a sigh of relief, unknowingly gave him a salute. He’d live thanks to the local guide.
“Damn it, why are there so many things to carry?”
The local division gave additional equipment on top of things Emil had packed for him. He determined that the mission was going to take at least two weeks. Of course, food and water took up the most space. 200 C-rations, 10kg of camel date palms, 10 two-liter water bottles, and two 5-liter water bottles filled his bag.
Jungles, despite being humid enough to have water drip off leaves, didn’t have enough freshwater for humans to drink. There was a high chance those pools of water held several kinds of bacteria and diseases considering the high temperature. Even flowing water wasn’t safe either. No one could tell what parasites it held.
Even the dew on leaves and grasses were hard to trust. Plants in the Ituri Jungle were heavily geared for survival. Many trees released poisonous chemicals to stop the growth of other trees.
He had no choice but to accept reality by packing several water bottles, purifiers, and water tablets to survive in a jungle with over 95% humidity in the air.
Another thing that took up space after food and water were the bullet magazines of their Meg machine gun. Bullets take up more space than one thinks. A 7.62mm×51mm NATO shell’s bullet weight is 9.33g, and the combined weight of the casing and charged gunpowder is about 20g. That comes up to 20kg for 1,000 rounds. The weight of 5,000 rounds that Samedi packed was 100kg.
While Black Mamba’s backpack had Boss-saurus’ tendon as a bulletproof plate, Samedi’s backpack held a bulletproof plate made of titanium and kebla. Just the backpack alone weighed 8kg.
Samedi took the sleeping bags, tents, rubber boats, other gears and water, and food. With the machine gun, 5,000 rounds, 5L water bottles, beds, boats, C-rations, and others, the weight he had to carry was over 200kg.
The weight Black Mamba had to carry wasn’t small either. He had fixed the Dragunov and MP5 to the sides of his backpack, had four Dragunov magazines, 400 rounds of bullets, five MP5sd3 magazines, 600 bullets, 200 darts, emergency rations, and a 30kg Rakshasa in the backpack’s lower compartment. The backpack weighed over 100kg. He added first aid and water to it.
C-rations filled Ulumbo’s backpack, and in the spare areas, spare bullets and gifts to exchange with the Pygmy tribe.
He checked his weapons after strapping up the backpack. There was a Kukri in his left armpit hold, 20 darts to the pocket on his left wrist, a Glock on his left ankle, and a Gerber knife on his right, as well as a Glock on his belt. There were Dragunov magazines in his smaller bag and two MP5 magazines, and he added two more water bottles in another pouch.
He got rid of the army rope stored in his upper jacket’s pocket and slid in his precious GPS instead. He flipped the mask with ocher stripes on a green background inside out and connected the Velcro attached to the Kevlar lightweight helmet to the top. This was a combat suit designed to prevent poisonous insects from invading through the nape of one’s neck. Finally, his bare eyes disappeared behind goggles.
The BDU (battle dress uniform) Black Mamba wore was a woodland patterned disguise suit made up of black and brown. BDUs were made to assimilate into the surrounding environment. On the other hand, the ACU (army combat uniform) adopted by the US military is made up of light green on a grey background to make it less impressionable. Of course, the BDU is more advantageous in the jungle. Black Mamba was repeatedly told of the Ituri Jungle’s notoriety. He prepared according to the old motto of Legion Etranger: ‘Only those who prepare, survive.’
“Wow, I look like I’m ready to beat up some space alien,” Black Mamba smiled bitterly at his attire.
He wondered whether there had ever been such a heavily-equipped warrior like him in the history of mercenaries.
Samedi finished gearing up by wearing a uniform, helmet, and a titanium-gold jungle knife. Black Mamba didn’t criticize his attire. The guy’s body itself was a bulletproof vest.
“You could catch a dragon,” Paul joked as he watched them suit up, but his expression wasn’t as bright.
He believed in Black Mamba’s ability, but the mission environment was too harsh. There were more than guerrillas threatening his life. The entire jungle was a threat.
Paul took off the opal Misbaha necklace around his neck and clasped it around Black Mamba’s.
“It’s my mother’s remaining belonging. You need to return it when you come back.”
“Fine. It doesn’t look that expensive to go through the efforts of stealing.”
“Hehehe, don’t ask too much from a poor mercenary. The intelligence department must have already told you this, but no one knows what goes on within the Ituri Jungle. Only the Pygmy tribe knows. I heard the Pygmy tribe is very fearful. Grab and have one as your guide.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“I hope Allah’s protection is with you!”
“Stop worrying and prepare to advance ranks, yeah? And a box of Sciaccarello to give me for your promotion.”
Black Mamba slapped Paul’s shoulder and dragged Paul and Ulumbo into the black forest.
Forty heated eyes followed Black Mamba’s back as he blended into the Devil’s Forest.
“Captain, I know the Advisor is very talented, but will they make it with just two people?”
Paul laughed at Kuachi’s worries, “Kehehe, haven’t you been attacked by those bees? Not a thousand honey bees would be able to defeat a general bee. Anyone who went against that guy was fated to end poorly. If the captives are alive, I’m sure he’ll bring them back. All we need to do is get ready to wrap up and take out the trash.”
“God, please have mercy over France!” Someone shouted a prayer Jeanne D’Arc shouted before entering a battle.
“Hh, I can’t even breathe.”
It was the first sentence he said after walking through the jungle for an hour. The legend of the black forest hadn’t been a lie. There were white masses of something, he couldn’t tell whether it was fog or mist, floating around, and water dripped from above. The hot humid air pressed down on his lungs. His chest grew suffocated, despite being on the outskirts of the jungle. That was how heavy the air was.
Black Mamba had Samedi lead the way, and Ulumbo behind Samedi. While he could take care of predators and poisonous snakes with Samedi, he couldn’t do anything about poisonous insects. If their guide dies from a poisonous insect, he’d be a cut-off kite, an egg laid bare in the river.