Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 461
The images of Somalian pirates racing across the Gulf of Aden riding on a palm-sized wooden boat with high-performance motor came up in his mind.
In the past, a Gazelle would be dispatched to fire a few rounds of its machine gun and that would be enough to cleanly sort out this situation. One of the good things about the ocean was that there was no need to deal with the aftermaths.
But the good times rapidly worsened after various human rights organizations butted in. Shooting was prohibited, and the suspects could not be shot down unless you caught them in the act first. Things that could have been dealt with quite easily had turned into a bundle of headaches.
Sinking the pirate ships was out of the question, and you’d only get the permission to fire when the pirates had already slung the ladders on the oil tankers and were about to climb aboard.
In the end, the troops were saddled with a new burden where they either had to physically push the pirates back with helicopters or give pursuit with their own high-speed boats. If a firefight broke out in the middle of such events, it could result in your subordinates getting hurt, too. What kind of a crappy situation was this?!
Humans often committed the idiocy of equating ethics, justice and rights. But pirates were predators preying on others’ property while trampling on their human rights. Hostages kidnapped by the pirates were chained up and thrown inside some dark shed. Meanwhile, the company that lost its oil tanker would be hit with significant financial losses.
Upholding human rights was certainly important, but did one really need to uphold the human rights of armed robbers and thieves?
– No, sir, that’s not it.
A reply came out from the radio’s receiver. Of course, that reply wasn’t meant for the question in Paul’s mind. His stress caused by the damn pirates simply had overlapped with the current situation, that’s all.
“Son of a b*tch. What then?!” Paul roared out in anger.
Anyone who had ever played billiards during lunch breaks should know how he felt right now.
You’d also get riled up if your opponent’s cue ball was in the gansei (defensive) position when you had the chance to close out a game of three-cushion. And it would only get worse if your wife or the company called you on top of that. Your mood would hit the pits in that case.
That’s what Paul was currently feeling right now, after his plan of drinking himself to stupor with a friend he hadn’t seen in a while got interrupted like this.
-I haven’t heard the reason for the return order, Captain.
“Bloody hell. Fine. Standby for a minute.”
Paul glanced over to Mu Ssang. One’s rank was an uncaring thug. If your boss said jump, you had to ask, how high?
“They want us to come back. What do you want to do?”
Mu Ssang wordlessly extended his hand. Paul chuckled while handing over the receiver. Time to fight fire with fire, then. Well, if one’s rank was a thug, then all you had to do was call an even tougher thug.
“What’s the identification number?”
Mu Ssang punched the identification number, then followed that up with the unique number reserved for the special military adviser.
The identification code was issued to the unit receiving military command, while the unique number was a secret code granted only to those capable of issuing said military commands.
The 13th division of Legion Etranger currently stationed in Djibouti could be mobilized into action by the country’s president, the minister of defense, 11th Air Defense Brigade Commander, and finally, the special military adviser.
Rather ironically, the commander of Legion Etranger, Lieutenant General Dimanche, did not have the authority to issue commands at all.
The incident at the French embassy in Damascus, the “Tomorrow’s sun will rise tomorrow” incident, put the higher-ups of the DGSE and the defense ministry in a serious bind. The stupid First Sergeant Riverie and the guards unwisely touched Black Mamba’s nerve and almost ended up leaving the world of living for good.
Didn’t matter which country it was, no army was free from morons in its ranks. The thing was, the nature of the organization called the army naturally produced morons in large droves. And if you got rid of one moron, another one would replace him. The army was the kind of a place where a perfectly-normal person would turn into a moron overnight.
Even if the higher-ups issued instructions hundreds of times, it was still impossible to stop an obnoxious moron of a unit from ruining things. The DGSE mulled their options for a while before coming up with the military identification code and the unique number, which created a backdoor communication system where the commander could be reached directly.
-Bonjour! C’est Colonel Vincent. (Hello! This is Colonel Vincent.)
This cloying voice with an overt hint of nasal noises leapt across space to smack Mu Ssang in his ear.
‘Man, does this guy eat only butter the whole day or something?’
A silly thought suddenly popped in Mu Ssang’s head just then. French soldiers would never be able to intimidate their targets with words alone thanks to their nasally sounds like ‘kkong’, ‘beng’, and ‘shong’.
“This is the special military adviser speaking. Captain Jean Paul is currently accompanying me.”
-Yes sir, I’m aware. That’s why, uhm…
Colonel Vincent was clearly hesitant about something.
“Colonel. Captain Paul is in the middle of supporting me. Someone wishing to see him could only mean that in reality, this someone wishes to see me instead, yes? Did a VIP show up?”
-Yes sir. Director-General of Operations Bonipas has arrived.
When Mu Ssang accurately hit the nail in the head, Colonel Vincent quickly revealed the truth as if he had been waiting for it.
The corners of Mu Ssang’s lips curled up slightly. Vincent, subjected under Bonipas’s pressuring, must’ve been having a tough time back in the base. Life, it seemed, was the same everywhere – it was always the little guy getting hurt when giants were duking it out.
“I heard that the glow of the setting sun is quite pretty in Djibouti’s beaches. I shall return after checking this rumor out for myself first. Tell the Director-General this. I’m currently at Lac Assal. If it’s an urgent matter, he should come to the salt lake to seek me out. If not, tell him to come see me later in my quarters with a bottle of fine booze.”
– B-but, sir-!
Mu Ssang uncaringly put the receiver down. The one in need was bound to dig the well first. A man who abused the weak was a douchebag, a nobody. But it was fine to disrespect those with power and success. Oil was gushing out in Mu Ssang’s backyard right now, so he didn’t really care about the pitiful pocket change they were giving him.
If Bonipas complained about the treatment later, then Mu Ssang had half a mind to tell him to shove it and just donate the money to an unfortunate neighbor in need.
“F*cking hell. You gotta be successful first to have balls, no?” Paul grumbled away.
The Director-General of the DGSE was the real mover among the real movers and shakers. Only Black Mamba could tell someone like that, who even personally flew in from Paris to Djibouti, to either wait or come find him. Not even the Prime Minister could act so rudely like that.
“Whoa! Our little rookie has all grown up, huh.” Bell Man sighed.
It was basically the same as Mu Ssang ordering the Director of CIA to come and go. Only the master of the White House could only exert such force.
‘Dammit. Why did the Serpent come here? Could it be?’
Mu Ssang’s mood soured. The reason why Bonipas even bothered to travel from Paris to Djibouti just to see him could only be for a job. The Director-General was an important official in charge of managing information and overseas territories. The weight he carried in this position was on another realm compared to the title of ‘Director of Operations Bonipas’.
Meaning, he couldn’t easily vacate his office for too long.
‘Is he thinking of sucking out everything while he can?!’
Frowns began etching on Mu Ssang’s forehead.
“Hey, Black. Rain is about to fall from the heavens, so why make the face of a man munching on mustard?”
“Oh. It’s nothing major. Do you know where Jang Shin is right now?” Mu Ssang asked Bell Man.
No one was as competent as Jang Shin if Mu Ssang wanted to train the artillery division in Novatopia.
“That guy went back to his hometown in Anhui. Hong Kong’s Young Heroes restaurant is currently closed. I think the surgery of Hou Ing was just an excuse, though. Hong Kong is a hundreds of times better place to get the organ transplant surgery done, after all. There’s no need for him to deliberately enter the Chinese mainland where the medical technology is way behind. I think he lied to Paul.”
“Yeah, I think so, too. As long as a donor is found, the operation can be done in Samu. I can arrange that much.”
Paul’s additional remark cast a shadow across Mu Ssang’s face.
“Things have become troublesome. Jang Shin isn’t the type to not pay his debts. He’s someone who mistakenly thinks he’s a chivalrous hero from a novel. He must’ve gone there to kill that son of a high-ranking Communist Party official who hit Hou Ing with the car.”
Mu Ssang’s words caused the eyes of both Bell Man and Paul to grow wide.
“What the hell? That idiot. Looks like he lost his damn mind after tasting the life in the Foreign Legion. China is a communist country so the public security and the military surveillance are something else entirely. How is he planning to go up against that? That damn bastard. Couldn’t he have just asked us for our help or something?”
Paul jumped up in anger.
“Jang Shin’s strong pride won’t let him. He’s not the type to drag in his friends in the quest for his vengeance. Bell Man, can you find out the situation there?”
“Not sure. Unless you’re talking about autonomous regions on the periphery, or the provinces near Hong Kong or Taiwan, not even CIA can perform HUMINT operations inland. Because, the Communist-specific underhanded surveillance and whistle-blowing systems are intricately laid out, you see.
“Any foreigners found inland are categorized as Commies, while the locals can’t be trusted at all. They lie like it’s nobody’s business.”
“Eh-whew. I should’ve seen it coming when he got tangled up with the damn Chinese Commies back in Ituri. That bloody idiot!” Mu Ssang spat out a groan.
He was getting an ominous premonition that he’d get tangled up with the Commies not too long from now, too. China was a horrifying country boasting the official population of 1.2 billion. Unofficially, though, it was around 1.5 billion.
“Don’t worry too much about him, though. That guy’s resilience is as tough as a crocodile’s tendons. A damn Peking duck. Even as FROLINAT was chasing him down, he still didn’t forget to auction off the guerillas’ pistols, daggers, talismans and jewelries to his seniors in the retirement village. In other words, he won’t do something that’ll put him in a disadvantage.”
“Right, I remember now that he was one serious tightwad even among the Peking ducks. As long as he can make money, he’ll probably sell everyone out with the exception of Black here.” Paul cackled loudly.
He and Bell Man tried to console Mu Ssang, but the latter didn’t feel consoled at all.
“By the way, why are you suddenly looking for Jang Shin?”
“Novatopia is expanding rapidly. So much so that it’s reached the point of needing an independent army of its own. I didn’t want to interfere if I could help it, but the presence of oil will make things more hectic from now on.”
“Makes sense, since that Explosives Devil will be a perfect artillery instructor. Hey, should I also resign? As long as you promise to keep feeding me.” Paul’s eyes began sparkling.
He was gradually getting bored and tired of this mercenary life. Drinking in the salty ocean breezes every single day while acting like a stalker chasing after some pirates’ shadows had gotten pretty stale for him lately.
“No can do. It’s not the right time for you to act just yet. And when it is the right time, it’s your job to lead all the mercenaries and leave. I also want to head to Novatopia, but for the sake of getting information, I’m taking the flak of the merchant of death right now.”
Bell Man dissuaded Paul.
Mu Ssang asked a question. “Hold on. Who is in charge of international espionage in Langley these days?”
“It’s Director Adam. Only saw him once, and I don’t know his real name. A Caucasian in his early 50s, balding and a medium height.”
“Who is the officer in charge of spy satellites and reconnaissance planes?”
“If there hasn’t been a transfer, then it should be Chief Mathilda. I heard that she’s a Caucasian woman in her mid thirties, but I’ve never seen her before. Other than the rumors of her slim good looks and a willingness to spread her legs, I don’t know much about her. Why? You need additional info?”
“No, it’s fine. I just need the code designation, that’s all.”
Bell Man was someone who’d willingly risk danger to help Mu Ssang out. The additional info could be acquired through the DGSE’s intelligence department, so Mu Ssang didn’t want to burden his friend unnecessarily.
“Why did you ask about them all of a sudden?”
“I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing each other pretty soon.”
Bell Man’s expression became unreadable. He’d been working as a spy for over a decade. As such, he knew better than anyone the unreasonable espionage actions of CIA and DIA.
Black Mamba was one of France’s top hidden cards. America and France were only countries that maintained overseas territories, who were also willing to deploy their own armies in international conflicts. It was only a matter of time before the two nations would find themselves at odds.
If France and America were placed on Bell Man’s scale, then it’d tilt in America’s favor. However, if Black replaced France in this hypothetical scale, then it’d tilt in his favor, instead. For one thing, Black was his friend, his boss, and also his life’s savior.
Paul smacked Bell Man’s shoulder. “Stop with your unnecessary worries, man. We’re Black Culture, remember?”
Bell Man nodded. Those words managed to blow away the sour taste in his mouth.
“Go, go! Let’s get out of here and drink ourselves to stupor!”
Two jeeps kicked up salt particles in the air as they raced toward the hotel.
A silhouette of a well-built man appeared on the window of a suite on the seventh floor of the hotel Palace Kempinski. It was Mu Ssang, holding a wineglass after finishing his shower.
Right next to this building was the 13th division’s R&R center, but he chose to stay in this hotel because the idea of staying near dudes emitting body odor didn’t appeal to him. Besides, he wasn’t going to pay for the stay, anyway. His job was to enjoy the comfortable stay, while the DGSE’s job was to take care of the bills.
There were two types of people in this world. People who worked to their bones to pay their taxes, then people who lived off on that very tax. There would be no other kick-ass lifestyle than not using a dime of your own money but still have a good time.
And that was one of the reasons why folks who tasted power stopped at nothing to hold onto their power.
Paul and Bell Man acted like they’d drink the whole night away, but had to satisfy their hearts with three glasses of Sciacarello before heading back to base. That’s because they received communication that the Serpent would soon arrive.
The two men were in their 40s, having successfully navigated a topsy-turvy life. As such, they knew oh-so-well that tagging along during the Serpent’s meeting with Black Mamba would not result in anything good.
Mu Ssang settled down on the veranda’s windowsill and looked at the pitch-black strait. In his current pose, the following phrases might float by him: [Have you had dinner yet?] – [The winds feel so good.] – [It must’ve been difficult.] – [You don’t have to say it, I know.] – [How about a cup of coffee?] – [All hardships are like passing breezes.] – [All the difficult moments in your life…] – […will soon pass.] – [I love you.]
His gaze caught the sight of around thirty oil tankers awash with bright light. The number of tankers entering and leaving the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait always maintained that number. Around thirty to fifty million barrels of oil and natural gas left the strait every day.
The total number of oil-producing countries around the world was eighty-six. Although not a small number, South Korea was regrettably not among them.
During the 20th century, oil became the main energy source as well as basic material for various industries. And with that, oil became the reason for half of all the international conflicts flaring up. It was unknown who coined the nickname the devil’s black tears, but without a doubt, that moniker suited oil as much as Black Mamba suited Mu Ssang.
“Since I’m Korean, does that make South Korea an oil-producing nation, too?”
Mu Ssang muttered to himself while sipping on a glass of Sciacarello. Oil was no longer a simple natural resource. No, it was political power and wealth.
A crippled country bumpkin, angry about losing a handful of acres of farmland to his uncle… somehow acquired a massive land for himself and even got his hands on oil, too. He was basically Cinderella, no, Edmond Dantès hidden in darkness at this point.
Edmond Dantès’s first target for vengeance was Fernand Mondego, the second target was Danglars, and finally, the third target was Gérard de Villefort.
But, what about Mu Ssang’s sworn enemy? Written in the records of favors and grudges, of course.
Mu Ssang took out a small memo pad bound by springs. This poor-quality memo’s cover had become worn-out while its pages had faded, too. Just how deep was his resentment back in his younger years for him to name this thing the records of favors and grudges?
A smirk escaped from his lips after reading the fading phrase of [Repay favors by ten times, but grudges by hundred times], blurred by the page’s fibers coming loose.
Revenge should be ten times worse than the act of repaying kindness, was it?
That sounded narrow-minded and not exactly fair. He flipped open the first page.
The word written on the very first page, ‘mom’, filled his view. After that, fifteen other names appeared, and among them without a cross were Jang Pil-nyuh, Bak In-bo, Bak Hwa-ja, Kim Dal-su, Jang Chi-soo and Lee Kang-chul.
As for those names with a cross running through them… They had been erased off from Mu Ssang’s memories..