Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 616
“Y-you mean, my boss?” Jeong Pil-su’s eyes widened.
Mu Ssang wordlessly raised his hand. Then, the Beretta deeply embedded in the tree trunk broke free and entered his waiting hand. Jeong Pil-su’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets at this unbelievable display of psychokinesis.
Korea’s National Security Agency also had a psychokinesis user, but that person’s ability was only good for moving a fork resting on a table slightly to the side.
That display of psychokinesis was merely the beginning, however.
The Beretta spat out a quick series of flames. That was the three-tap rapid-fire, a skill Black Mamba hadn’t demonstrated in a while.
The stunned Jeong Pil-su ducked his head fast enough to dislodge it off his neck nearly. However, bullets missed his crown by a hair’s breadth and slammed into the oak tree trunk he was leaning on. The muzzle continued to spit out more flames. It took less than three seconds to bury themselves in the tree trunk for sixteen rounds.
Mu Ssang opened his palm before clenching it. Bullets began tumbling out of the hole in the trunk. Without even realizing it, Jeong Pil-su hurriedly looked behind. There was only one hole in the tree trunk as if a woodpecker had pecked on it. Meanwhile, dozen-plus crushed bullets on the ground were gleaming under the moonlight.
“How can this be?!” Jeong Pil-su’s jaw dropped to the ground.
Rather than an out-and-out offensive weapon, a pistol served a more defense-oriented role. Not only did it have low accuracy, attaching a silencer caused the weight balance to concentrate more on the front of the weapon, further worsening its accuracy. You might be born with superhuman abilities, but you had to train hard to become good at shooting a gun.
Jeong Pil-su dazedly stared at the muzzle and the blue smoke rising. Just how many skills did that man possess?! Jeong Pil-su was shocked even more by the shooting skill than the mysterious power to move things with the mind. He began shuddering after imagining what might happen if Bak Mu-ssang got his hands on an automatic rifle.
“Jeong Pil-su, this world is much bigger than you think. Things you found amazing are nothing to speak about in reality.”
“I-if you say so, it must be true.” Jeong Pil-su stuttered slightly. What could a little cat-like him say when a tiger declared so?
Mu Ssang pressed the magazine release and ejected the magazine. He lightly tapped the gun on top, and the last remaining round popped out. He caught it between his thumb and index finger, then squeezed it tightly.
The shell flew off while the bullet got crushed flat as if squeezed by an industrial press. He tossed the shot, now thinner than a coin, over to Jeong Pil-su.
“Aht?! Hot hot hot!” Jeong Pil-su caught the bullet without thinking, only hurriedly shaking his hand. The smell of burning flesh wafted out, and his hand blistered immediately.
Next up, the metal magazine was crushed like mud in Mu Ssang’s hand. He tossed the crushed magazine and the Beretta over to Jeong Pil-su, then silently pointed at the latter’s legs.
“Oh, uh!” Jeong Pil-su’s body began shivering all on its own.
That gesture was a warning that his legs would be crushed if he tried anything foolish. This series of actions Bak Mu-ssang had demonstrated so far was meant to serve as a raw, naked warning.
All strength abandoned Jeong Pil-su’s body as cold sweat dotted his forehead. Even his sphincter that managed to hold on until now began to loosen up sneakily.
“Make sure your boss fully understands, got that!”
“Uht?!” Jeong Pil-su cried out in shock. The man standing before his eyes had vanished entirely. He hurriedly scanned his surroundings, but all he could detect or hear were the rustles of the night winds and the hooting of an owl.
The sight of the mercilessly crushed magazine and the heat from the flattened bullet reminded him that all this… did happen for real. A dokkaebi did not bewitch him, nor was he in a dream. It all happened for real!
“F*ck me. What’s the point of working for the Nat-Sec now? Might as well just start a farm or something…”
A helpless lamentation leaked out of his mouth all by itself. Jeong Pil-su suddenly recalled the Metamorphosis, a novella by Kafka. Somehow, he saw himself in the protagonist, someone with no more uses left. He felt more useless than an insect.
The following day, Jeong Pil-su barely managed to submit a summarized report before sagging down on the coffee shop’s table. It was still very early winter, but the middle of the mountain at night was cold enough to make his teeth chatter. The after-effects of dangling from a tree and getting hit by the cold night winds and the horrifying torture left their heavy toll on him. The physical damage was indeed considerable, but the psychological sense of loss was the biggest culprit of his lack of energy.
The coffee shop entrance opened. Unfortunately, Jeong Pil-su only placed the ‘Closed’ sign on the door but forgot to lock it.
“I’m sorry, dear customer. We’re not open today.” Jeong Pil-su yelled out while still lying on his back. He didn’t even want to lift a finger right now.
“Wow, aren’t you looking good there, fellow? You told me to leave it to you, but now, look at your pathetic ass. How are you feeling now?”
“Huk, president!” The stunned Jeong Pil-su tried to push his torso up to collapse on his side next. But instead, his legs just gave in like the tentacles of an octopus.
“It’s fine, you dumb sh*t. Stay there and don’t try to move too much.” Yi Dae-deok growled unhappily, but his tone contained a great deal of worry.
“I’m sorry, boss. I’ve got no excuse.”
Jeong Pil-su failed to fulfill the boss’s orders and even messed up the operation. It’d be only standard for him to get a vicious kick up his backside without being given a chance to complain.
“You don’t. Even a dumba*s like you is one of my own, though. Every agent’s been staying up the whole night trying to find you.”
“What about Kim Si-wuk, sir?”
“That idiot? He got a well-deserved beating and is currently writing a letter of apology.”
“But, it was my fault…” Jeong Pil-su mumbled weakly.
“Hey, you dumb sh*t, you should be ashamed about this. You’re supposed to be a senior agent, yet you got kidnapped by a bloody civilian? And you, you blabbed your mouth, didn’t you?”
Jeong Pil-su could only blink his eyes in silence like a bull tripping on an icy field. Being ‘ashamed’ only applies when you got done in by an opponent worse than you. How was he supposed to resist a bona fide monster? He was not ashamed at all right now.
“You dumba*s. How can an agent get kidnapped by a civilian and start blabbing his mouth after only a few punches?! Did you throw all that anti-torture training outside the window or something? Our company needs big-headed punks with small mouths, get my drift? Punks like you with a small head and a big mouth should just resign and join that political party, Sinhandang or something! No, wait. Why don’t you just go away and join the Pyongyang Broadcasting Station instead!” The branch manager’s infamous rant began flooding out of his mouth.
“Sir, that guy wasn’t interested in the information. He just asked me about my name and affiliation, but that was it.” Jeong Pil-su tried to defend himself with a voice as loud as an ant scurrying away. He couldn’t speak any louder than this, even if he wanted to. His chest was besieged with this flesh-tearing pain whenever his vocal cords vibrated.
“You dumb sh*t, how dare you to run your mouth after wasting the valuable government asset! That was a tax collected from the citizens. Taxes of the citizens, I tell you!” Yi Dae-deok yelled while angrily pounding on the Beretta’s magazine, resembling a trampled steamed bun.
“Uh, Sir? The only asset wasted is that damaged magazine.”
“You fool, you’re that valuable government asset! Do you know how much tax you’ve been slurping down that piehole of yours until now? We spent a ton of money training you, yet you come back home after getting wrecked by a civilian? And you even blabbed who you are! You dumb useless trash!” Yi Dae-deok’s voice got louder and louder.
“But Sir, Bak Mu-ssang is an advisor, not a civilian. Not just a normal advisor either, but a monster, too!”
“A monster?! Do you think you can spew whatever nonsense you want just because you have a mouth? So, I’m putting you on the VIP protection and management detail from tomorrow on. And you’ll also be humoring other teams’ requests for assistance!”
“Heok?! Sir, you want me to be a babysitter for some rich kids?!” Jeong Pil-su’s expression crumpled unsightly.
“What’s wrong? Don’t like it? If you don’t like it, you can clear out your desk! I also don’t want a dumba*s underling like you that goes around getting wrecked every day!”
One’s rank was indeed a bully. Jeong Pil-su was saddened by the branch manager mercilessly dragging him across the coal like this but didn’t know what else he could say here. No matter how hard he tried to explain the true terror of Bak Mu-ssang, the branch manager wasn’t the type to pay heed, anyway. Even Jeong Pil-su caught himself wondering if the events of the last night were just a nightmare from a cold winter night, after all.
“Aigooo, branch manager! Please! What was I supposed to do when I was nowhere as good as him! That guy is an ‘untouchable’ who’s a superhuman martial art expert and a top-tier sniper. I can’t win against that. How do you think I ended up in this state, Sir!” Jeong Pil-su desperately clung to Yi Dae-deok’s pants.
“Hey, you. It’s not the branch manager but the president. President! This punk, you’ve lost your mind after getting beaten up by that civilian, haven’t you! By the way, did that guy crush this thing with his bare hand?” Yi Dae-deok studied the magazine in his hand from this and that angle.
It was spherical, like a rice ball rolled up by a dung beetle. The thickness of the metal was only about 0.8mm, but the magazine was still made out of carbon steel. So its shape wouldn’t change much, even after hitting it with a hammer twice.
“There’s this thing too, sir.” Jeong Pil-su took out the flattened bullet from his pocket.
“Ohh, sure thing, you punk! Did he also crush this with his hand?”
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“Of course. He squeezed it like wringing the laundry, and that’s the result, Sir.” Jeong Pil-su chose to hold back on the part about how sixteen rounds instantly hit the same hole; if he said that out loud, his boss might kick his ass for spewing more bullsh*t.
“Huh. I don’t have a choice but to believe it, now do I…” Yi Dae-deok brought the flattened bullet closer to his eyes. “Hey, bring me a magnifying glass!”
Yi Dae-deok’s secretary on standby quickly rushed upstairs to the office and returned with a magnifying glass.
‘Holy cow, he wasn’t kidding!’
Yi Dae-deok noticed the faint outlines of a fingerprint engraved on the bullet. He felt a chill run down his spine. He thought he could now understand the meaning behind Bak Mu-ssang’s show of force. It was a good thing that that man wanted to meet face to face.
“By the way… Why did that man kidnap you in the first place? I don’t think he’s crazy enough to turn you into a rag just because you tailed him for a bit…” Yi Dae-deok narrowed his eyes and glared at Jeong Pil-su.
“Well, uh… I guess I offended him.” Jeong Pil-su’s head quivered a little.
“You offended him?”
“I, uh, planted bugs in his house, sir.”
“What the hell?! Don’t you know when to stop?! Why did you even plant bugs inside a foreign cultural center?!” Yi Dae-deok clutched the back of his neck.
Their opponent was a high-ranking foreign diplomat. If the French demanded answers, then all of their heads would roll instantly. The Yanks had already taken them to the cleaners, but at this rate, it looked like the French would do the same, too!
“You don’t have to worry about that, Sir. Bak Mu-ssang told me that he’s still Korean. He also said that he still loves this country even though he doesn’t like it. Sure, he beat me up black and blue, but he was also a man’s man, Sir. I think I’ve fallen for him.”
“What the f*ck? Would you listen to this moron! Did you catch that Stockholm Syndrome or something?” Yi Dae-deok’s expression crumpled deeply.
“Sir, can you see this?” Jeong Pil-su lowered his shirt and showed Yi Dae-deok his collarbone.
“What is it? I can’t see anything.”
“No, Sir. Take a closer look. Can you see a blue dot there, smaller than a fly dropping?”
Yi Dae-deok used the magnifying glass to look. “…Uh! I can see it.”
Indeed, he could see a small blue dot on Jeong Pil-su’s skin. It was smaller than a fly’s head.
“That’s the evidence of Bak Mu-ssang tapping me with his finger, sir.”
“So, when you say you got beaten up, is this it?”
“Yes, Sir. Compared to this, TTX is just a child’s play.” Jeong Pil-su stopped talking there and began shuddering after recalling the indescribable pain. He would’ve probably revealed all the top-secret information he knew back then if Bak Mu-ssang started asking him about it.
“If that friend hadn’t changed his mind toward the end and healed me, I’d have died while sh*tting blood, Sir. And he warned me that if we do anything unwise one more time, he will chop off the legs of everyone, starting from the gophers and even you, president.” Jeong Pil-su smirked while saying that.
“Urgh, that punk! Why me when I didn’t do anything?” Yi Dae-deok flinched a little. Even though the story he heard sounded far-fetched, there was no denying that Bak Mu-ssang was one scary superhuman. He felt more chill run down his spine.
“According to Bak Mu-ssang, the bad guy isn’t the tool, but the hand wielding that tool, sir.”
“Huh, huh huh. One of that man’s former professions is supposed to be a baldy monk, and it sounds like that was true all along. How about we head-hunt him as our special agent, then?” Yi Dae-deok’s eyes began sparkling.
“Fut!” Jeong Pil-su chuckled helplessly. What useless nonsense that was. It was the same as a kitten wanting to manage a tiger. “Sir, do you know how much is a French advisor’s annual salary? That man’s house alone is over ten thousand pyeong in scale. I felt so small and insignificant when I entered his house to plant those bugs. But, Sir, do you honestly think you can give him the same level of treatment with your authority as a branch manager?”
“But, what about his patriotism…”
“That’s even more hopeless, Sir. Don’t you remember what that young scientist in Germany told us when we tried to bring him back home? He said that Korea has abandoned him, that Germany has given him so much more. But, unfortunately, he’s too busy repaying Germany what he owes, and Korea is merely one of the hundreds of foreign countries on Earth to him.”
“That man is not the type of serving under someone else, Sir. Besides, why would he do this job when all we do is investigate the backgrounds of the regime’s political rivals, arrest the demonstrators and wipe the bottoms of the higher-ups while generally wasting our days? If I had his abilities, I’d have resigned a long, long time ago, Sir. Eh-whew!” Jeong Pil-su sighed at length after saying some self-mocking things.
Yi Dae-deok was about to yell back, only to hold his tongue. None of what’s been said was wrong, after all. “Urgh, I don’t care anymore. I’ll find out what kind of a punk he is anyway once we meet face to face. Then, I’ll see how much of a big fish he is that he can order around a Nat-Sec branch manager to show up at midnight.”
“Midnight at the central park, sir.” Jeong Pil-su reminded his boss of the time and place one more time.
“Hey, you! I already know, so just file an accurate report and talk to a therapist, got that? Did you run into a tiger or something? I’ll give you a week off, so stay in a hospital in the meantime.”
“Understood, sir.” Jeong Pil-su nodded slowly. His branch manager might go on a rant and hurl abuse around, but Yi Dae-deok, a superior officer, knew how to look after his subordinates.
Yi Dae-deok was inwardly feeling troubled at the moment, however. He got a message about an unscheduled management-level conference tomorrow morning. If he were to meet Bak Mu-ssang at midnight, it’d become a race against time to attend the six o’clock meeting at Namsan in Seoul. That conference was undoubtedly important, but his curiosity was far more vital than canceling the appointment.
In the main hall of Eungsim-je…
Jin Soon picked up the ringing phone. “Hello?”
-Get Bak Mu-ssang on the line.
A curt reply jumped out of the phone’s receiver. A frown etched on Jin Soon’s forehead. “May I know who’s speaking?”
-You don’t need to know. Just get him on the phone as I told you.
Some random man was trying to be overbearing on the phone? That triggered Jin Soon.
“If you have a business with him, come and see him yourself.”
She wasn’t scared of either the organized criminals or the cops. Also, the elderly monk told her to treat Buddha as Buddha and treat evil as evil, after all!
-What was that?! You crazy bi*tch! Do you even know who I am while running your mouth off?!
“Hey, loser, who don’t you tell me who you are, then? What a crackpot loser of a dumpster fire you’re.”
-What the hell? What the f*ck did you say?
Jin Soon took her ear away from the receiver. Her eardrum ached from all the yelling traveling on the copper phone line.
“I’m too busy for this nonsense!”
Jin Soon hung up the phone. She had no reason to wrestle with a lunatic. Her hands were already full from helping Mina study and prepare Oppa’s snacks.
“H-hey, I’m calling from the agency…” The rude caller, the Nat-Sec’s Min Ju-seok, hurriedly yelled into the phone, but the line was dead by then. “Huh? What is up with that crazy b*tch?!”
Min Ju-seok chuckled hollowly while holding the receiver. People trained by the military dictatorship would automatically lower themselves when they heard a forceful manner of speech and a mere mention of the ‘agency.’ This would be his first time in three years working for the National Security Agency to run into a woman as daring as her.
He dialed the number once more. It was OK to lose his temper later. His branch manager had a character ten times worse than his. Min Ju-seok had no idea who this punk Bak Mu-ssang was, but if he failed to set up an appointment properly? His shins would turn into rags in no time at all from his boss’s kicks.
“Listen here, I’m calling from the agency.”
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When he got a short, curt reply, Min Ju-seok finally blew his top. “Hey, you bi*ch! Where the hell is your damn manners?!”
-And you? Did you feed your manners to your dogs?
The phone went dead again.