Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 467
“Should’ve guessed it when they doubled the territory’s size…”
Mu Ssang inwardly tutted.
Humans needed land to live. In fact, ‘land’ was the type of economic goods that needed to be procured without exception if any living being wished to keep on living.
Even a lizard living in a barren desert had its own territory, while the frail-looking cistus plants blooming inside a mountain burned themselves down to protect their territories. That was not a hyperbole — those flowers really did burn.
When the surroundings of a Corsica cistus plant was filled up with other types of vegetation and the temperature rose past 32℃, the plant would emit flammable volatile oil and immolate itself to death. Of course, the nearby weeds that got covered in said flammable oil would not be spared from this fate, either.
The cistus could even survive in alkaline soil. The new cistus bud would always sneakily raise its head from the ashes of its competitors.
If even some common plant is able to self-immolate in order to protect its territory, how much worse could humans get? Humanity’s history was basically a past filled with games of hopscotch.
Here he was, wondering why France was being so generous here. It did not matter which country it was. They could never be free from the problems of one’s territory, it seemed.
‘A superhuman in a different sense, huh.’
Mu Ssang looked at Bonipas in a renewed light.
For animals or plants, the one with the greatest physical strength was the king. But for humans living as members of society, one’s physical strength was not everything.
Bonipas was a great example of a man living solely for his country and country alone. He took emotions out of the equation and analyzed Mu Ssang’s dispositions and abilities before betting on the man. It was the same as staking his everything on some young South Korean that figuratively fell out of the heavens one day.
In a way, it was like Mu Ssang had gotten taken advantage of. However, he did not feel as bad as he thought he would be. It was as Bonipas said — their interests happened to align rather closely. No need to sob like a loser just because you got hit in the face. All you had to do was smack the one hitting you in the back of their head.
Mu Ssang opened the [Novatopia Military Organization (Proposal)] once more.
The DGSE’s intelligence department recommended the system of having a standing army and mass national conscription. The three-phase build-up of combat potential was to happen over the period of five years. The standing army should be under 3% of the territory’s total number of free citizens, while the reserve force included every citizen between the age of 18 to 40.
“Before the end of this year, create a mechanized battalion centered around wheeled armored vehicles. Then, gradually increase the scale of the army to match the increase in the region’s autonomous population…
“Within two years, create a rapid response brigade, then proceed to create three more rapid response brigades and ten reserve force brigades? Will that be enough to build up war potential and conclude the project?
“They are estimating Novatopia’s final population to be around 1.8 million. The land is twice the size of Gyeonggi-do, yet 1.8 million will be our limit? Aren’t they being too conservative here?’
While reading the report, Mu Ssang’s head began tilting to the side. If the influx of refugees continued to increase at the current rate, then never mind 1.8, the population might end up ballooning to 18 million!
He continued reading the next page of the military formation proposal.
[Novatopia Mobile Brigade Combat Potential Reinforcement Planning Document]
1. Total number of personnel: 5,000
2. Battalion formation: Total 7 Battalions (1 aviation battalion, 1 armored battalion, 1 artillery battalion, 3 infantry battalion, 1 support battalion)
– Aviation Battalion: 5 companies, 360 combatants
– Armored Battalion: 4 companies, 640 combatants
– Artillery Battalion: 3 companies, 240 combatants
– Infantry Battalion: 3 battalions, 3,000 combatants
– Support Battalion: 760 technicians (communications company, medical corps, maintenance company, logistics support company, and headquarters company)
3. Aviation Battalion: 20 rotorcrafts
– 5 companies (4 rotorcraft companies, 1 maintenance company)
– Lightly armed Gazelle company: 3 SA342 Gazelles, 1 SA341 Gazelle
– Weapons: 4 HOT Anti-tank missiles, two 20mm heavy machine guns, one 14.5mm chain gun
4. Armored Battalion: 46 wheeled armored vehicles, four AMX-30s
– Three wheeled armored vehicle company, one maintenance company
– Armored vehicle company: 15 AMX-10RC (105mm main cannon), one AMX-30
– Armaments: 105mm main cannon (COTAC weapon fire control system), thermal imaging apparatus, tire inflation suspension system applied
5. Infantry Battalion: 3 Combat battalions total 3,000 combatants
– Transport Equipment: 100 armored personnel carriers, 200 high-mobility-type vehicles
– Support Armament: Mistral surface-to-air missile, light field artillery, mortar, automatic grenade launchers, heavy machine guns…
– Personal Firearms: FAMAS, Minimi
“How horrifying!” Mu Ssang shook his head before closing the report.
The traditional infantry brigade was on a different level than the rapid response brigade. For instance, the logistical list of consumables alone would make anyone gasp in shock.
A brigade, like a division, was an independent operations corps that possessed various functions such as air, armor, intelligence, artillery and communications.
The idea of a mobile brigade was not anything grand. According to the military doctrine, just add a stinging stick (field artillery) to the infantry brigade, give them wheels (armored personnel carriers) and attach dragonfly wings (helicopters) on their backs. That’s it.
The problem with that, though, was the fact that the costs of those wheels and dragonfly wings were no laughing matter.
Just one Gazelle helicopter was seven billion Korean Won. Purchasing twenty Gazelles, along with their armaments and the future spare parts, would cost around two hundred billion Korean Won.
Buying only 50 armored vehicles and tanks for the armored battalion would cost up to 170 billion Won. But that budget would double in an instant if a broker got involved in the middle of the deal. For instance, the person in charge of weapons procurement received a box of ‘health drinks’, or he had to meet a contractor in a shady underground parking lot somewhere…
The weapons procurement business was a money-devouring hippo, that’s for sure. Even if the stored equipment and material were handed over for only 30%, the budget of 100 billion Won would melt away and disappear like the ice cream in the middle of the blazing summer sun.
The five hundred million Francs — 125 billion Won — earned in the jungles of Ituri was about to vanish before Mu Ssang could even count them properly.
Mu Ssang was not some battle commander, but a lone wolf “eraser”. Just looking at these titles alone made his eyes spin.
“A verdant blade of grass, gently floating away on the water’s surface…”
He suddenly recalled a verse from the lyrics of a song, the ‘One Fine Spring Day’. However, it was not some verdant green grass floating down the stream that he was imagining. Rather, it was freshly-minted verdant banknotes. Billions of 100 dollar bills were washing away along the underground waterways of the ‘crippled-leg’ aquifer…
“General Director. How much money do you think I must pour in if I just bulldoze through with organizing a mobile brigade?”
“At minimum, around two billion Francs, give or take. However, you’d only need around five to six hundred million Francs if you were to purchase our stored equipment. You now have oil pouring out of your backyard, so what’s a few hundred million Francs to you, anyway? Don’t hesitate, and just go for it!”
Bonipas began sneakily scratching away at Mu Ssang’s resistance.
A loud groan escaped Mu Ssang’s lips.
Somewhat ironically, he suddenly realized that France was making the agent with the call name, Black Mamba, do its bidding for a ridiculously low price.
If France wanted to blow up Ruman, the air defence missile command, and the chemical or biological weapons storage hidden in the Caparuza Valley like Mu Ssang had done, then spending dozens of billions in Francs would not have been enough.
Of course, the losses Assad experienced that day would have reached up to several hundreds of billion Francs. Enough for Bonipas to mistake the three pages as 300 million Francs, not three thousand.
“General Director. A mobile brigade that includes an aviation battalion with war potential would make it very easy to pillage many of Africa’s lousy countries. Hell, we can even push Habré out to the middle of the desert, too. I’m guessing you have other intentions here?”
Mu Ssang’s gaze on Bonipas was not so gentle anymore. This was no longer about working as a band-aid to deal with the refugee crisis. Bonipas should not be someone harboring dark intentions, but even so, his ulterior motives could still be felt.
“Looks like you saw through me. Novatopia is a free democracy unlike its neighboring nations. And it’s not just free on the surface, but it is a country where fair opportunities are provided without discrimination or divisions. Your efforts are most definitely met with reasonable rewards.
“I saw that the wages for workers digging for groundwater under the blazing sun are higher than some clerks pushing papers in an office. That is a wonderful world that anyone would wish to live in one day.”
“Thanks for the high praise. But let’s cut to the chase. What is it that you want to tell me?”
“What I want to say is this. Whether you want it or not, citizens of your neighboring countries would come to want you. I’m putting my neck on the line here to predict that in ten years, a country powerful enough to surpass Israel will make its entrance in the Saharan desert. By then, Chad would have been swallowed up by Novatopia.”
“And you are suggesting that neighboring nations will feel the heat and turn their muzzles in my direction?”
“Correct. Gaddafi and Habré are about to lose their necks so it is unlikely that they would just sit back and watch. Novatopia is already on the back of the tiger. If it wishes to survive, it has no choice but to grow fangs and sharpen its claws.”
Bonipas kept yapping away as if Novatopia’s current situation did not concern him. In reality, he was pretty relaxed too. The ball was in Black Mamba’s court, anyway.
“This is troublesome.”
Mu Ssang sensed the onset of a migraine. Novatopia was a white elephant destined to cause him lots of headaches. Even Lord Buddha disliked white elephants, so why did Mu Ssang want one for himself?
But then, he remembered the residents of Sahel, who were unable to die and had to reluctantly live on, the Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Kurds of the northern mountain ranges of Syria, and young kids of Eritrea being sold off.
Indeed, the reason why he developed Novatopia was to create a haven for oppressed people and those with no place left to go.
In the Records of the Grand Historian, there was a record of lamentation that went along the lines of “A worthy and strong man must be like that”.
That was uttered by the still-young Emperor Gaozu of Han after he witnessed the procession of Qin Shi Huang in Xianyang. Emperor Gaozu dreamed of heaven and earth, but Mu Ssang was dreaming of a utopia for people with nowhere else to go.
That was because he felt that this was something a red-blooded man should do. But now, all sorts of uninvited guests were showing signs of intruding.
“Huh. Just who was it that placed us on top of a tiger in the first place?! It’s no good to act as if it doesn’t concern you.”
“France will always be your ally. That’s why you should really go for it when you have our full backing.” Bonipas was genuine about his recommendation.
He really wanted to witness the Eastern Swordsman stand up tall and proud.
“General Director, there’s no need to beat around the bush. Once Novatopia is developed enough, I believe only two bastards would come looking for a fight.
“Hissène Habré is France’s puppet so he won’t misbehave, which leaves us with Libya and Sudan. Gaddafi is a hyena who’s always looking for an opportunity to swallow up Chad, after all. As for Sudan, there’s a good chance of it invading us to divert the ethnic tension bubbling up within their border.
“It’s enough for Novatopia to serve as a shelter for those who have lost hope but haven’t abandoned it just yet. There’s no point in you trying to fan the flames here. I have no desire to expand our territory, and certainly no designs on becoming a hero. As for the army, it will be operated in the spirit of a self-defence force.”
“Mm! France will not be sparse in its support for Novatopia’s establishment and development. But, listen. There have been no more heroes after Napoleon. As a man yourself, do you not dream of building your own kingdom?”
“I know myself the best. With how I am, I’m better suited as a district manager of some ‘arrondissement municipal’ somewhere. General Director, you and I make a pretty good team, and you are a patriot. And you always do your best to find optimal common ground between France and me. And finally, Novatopia is one of the main pillars in France’s Great Africa Management Strategy. Do you agree with me so far?”
“Of course I agree.”
“I’ve experienced humanity’s capacity for greed far too many times. Doesn’t matter whether a fight is major or minor in scale, it always begins with one’s greed.
“A powerful deterrent against war is absolutely necessary. I am the Eastern Swordsman, but not a hero nor a puppet. I shall deal with the human resources myself. As for the expenses of organizing and maintaining Novatopia’s brigades, five Western European nations will pay.
“France, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain will now have to choose between whether to continue racking their brains over the refugee crisis or pass the problem on to Novatopia and deal with a far less burden later on. However, if the five Western European nations are unwilling to foot the military expenditure, then Novatopia won’t be able to accept refugees anymore. So, it’s time to stop messing around.”
Bonipas’s expression hardened at that resolute declaration.
This was an unexpected reversal. He knew that Mu Ssang should not be taken lightly, but even so, he had no idea the latter would be this ballsy. No, wait — as Mu Ssang was a man without greed, he could come out strong whenever he wanted to.
“It seems that trying to get smart with you only got myself smacked in the head instead. I’m not brave enough to continue trying to swindle the angel of death. I’m merely striving for a win-win situation for everyone involved, that’s all.” Bonipas faltered a bit as he tried to justify himself.
But Mu Ssang did not let up and continued his attack. “The plan to create three brigades in Novatopia is no different to putting cobra fangs on an earthworm and attaching the head of a crocodile on a lizard’s torso.
“What’s the point of having good fangs when the body can’t even support them? For the time being, the brigade will consist of one armored battalion, an aviation support company, and two infantry battalions. And so, I’d like you to hand over the prepared goods now, thanks.”
“Don’t be like that now. If you never planned to hand over the stored equipment in the first place, you wouldn’t even have prepared the list.”
Mu Ssang’s eyes flickered brightly.
Bonipas’ expression, stiff until then, slowly came undone like his bluff. His plan to act a bit condescendingly had gone down the drain. It seemed that he completely lost to Black Mamba today.
“It seems you’ve become a sly fox these days. I’d like you to treat the stored equipment list as a top-secret document, please. Once Novatopia is ready to take over the goods, I shall ensure that the stored equipment will be delivered to you ASAP.
“I have to say, I always seem to lose money when trying to negotiate with you, Black Mamba.”
“Nonsense. You expect me to believe a merchant’s claim of losing money?”
“I was hoping to make a lot of profit only for you to sweep the house instead. Hmm, footing the maintenance bill of the army, is it? I guess those bean counters that like to fart a lot will be tearing their hair out with this. What was that saying again? While trying to pick sesame seeds, you end up spilling your bottle of oil? Hehehe!”
Bonipas began cackling. He was imagining the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ face, who resembled someone chewing an unripe olive.
The original plan was for him to show how wonderfully benevolent France could be, then provide the stored equipment to Mu Ssang. He was trying to weaken Black Mamba’s light but only became saddled with the extra burden of maintenance expense.
“Let’s stop all this headache-inducing discussion here. Besides, the defence reinforcement project cannot be done overnight. I saw that many of the mercenaries retiring from Legion Etranger were headed to Novatopia to work as instructors.
“Friend, you’ll naturally grow to become a big player even if you’re left alone. And so, the man blessed by Allah, shall we talk about the issue of oil now? , I’ll have you know that I used to be a supervisor dispatched to Total. When it comes to petroleum, I do have some surface-level knowledge, other than those that are beyond me, of course.”
“We only discovered the oil indication of the salt layer. We have yet to confirm the oil layer.”
“If it’s that much, then without a doubt, you got yourself an oil reserve. The Doba basin used to be a potential exploration site that Total kept a close eye on. They did confirm the anticline stratum through the triangular seismic measurement, but in the end, they had to withdraw due to the outbreak of Chad’s civil war.”
“Well, they basically got swindled out of a deal, so they might start beating themselves up soon.”
“Chairperson Margerie must be gritting their teeth after getting hit in the back of their head like this. Hey, you might even get hit by a Zipangu car too.”
“A… Japanese car?”
“You see, Chairperson Margerie is a sponsor of Nissan’s Formula One efforts..”