Chapter 10: Chapter 2, Episode 1: Deuxieme Rep
10 years ago, at 18 years old, Mu Ssang had met the third cause of his physical change. He had earned his surprising senses and strange hiding abilities through his meeting with Chui Do Shik. He was a man who Mu Ssang wanted to chew on, but he couldnt deny the fact that his physical abilities had grown because of Chui Do Shik. He had learned the Five Combined Movements and the Combined Repetitive Expelling Theory when he was 20, after meeting his master.
Legion Etranger provided him with modern weapons and combat techniques. If the two previous experiences gave him an increase in physical abilities, the third gave him attack skills.
The ability to throw bulls, a neutralization which caused him to seep into nature without traces, the way of enclosing on distant objects, and the god snipers ability to hit more than one target per second...
Although modern warfare had been reorganized around collective tactics and high-performance weapons, the world would be astounded by his skills and abilities. Mu Ssang recalled his masters advice, once more, and hid his abilities as much as possible.
“What is the limit of my abilities” he wondered.
He had done his best when fighting Chui Do Shik and his subordinates on Bang Tae San, but there had been no reason to use everything in his power. He became frustrated not knowing his limits.
After unleashing much of his concerns he jumped from Corse into the night sea.
With a long shout, his slim body was sucked into the sea under the rugged cliff.
His body shot straight down without more than a small splash breaking the waters surface. Then it suddenly rebounded and rose back to the surface.
He was like a seal, swimming through the night waters easily.
Each time he raised his lean arms to cut through the waters, his body shot out. He no longer dog-paddled like he had in the Nakdong River. This was the swimming skill of a highly trained Deuxieme Rep mercenary.
As soon as he reached the coastal cliffs, he started climbing the vertical wall. He looked like a roach in the way he attached all of his limbs to the slippery surface. He used a technique in which he moved both of his limbs on one side of his body, at the same time, over the eroded coastal cliffs that overflowed with protrusions and gaps. In two minutes, he could climb 70 meters. Todays goal was to decrease that by 10 seconds.
The rhythmic movement stopped. He was six meters from the top. There was a man on the cliff, and he could feel his menacing aura. Soon he detected another presence, but the second man stopped without closing the distance. A man who sought out him in his night training could not have come in good faith.
“Is it someone with a grudge against me Those bastards think Im weak when I dont do anything.”
Mu Ssang didnt think about it for long. Night training was official personal training given to a soldier with the commanders permission. Anyone who interrupted such training could be punished. He finally had a chance to hand out punishment.
His body, which was attached to the cliff, shot up as if someone was pulling him from above. He climbed three meters with a single movement. It was like climbing a dragons back using the fearless steps of his martial art.
Sergeant Mike, who had been hiding, shouted in fear. He was so surprised that he fell back and landed on his rear. After all, it was past midnight, and a black creature had jumped up out of nowhere before the bright moonlight. He was only human after all.
“Sergeant Mike, are you taking a stroll”
“Wha, what are you, a ghost”
Mike stuttered as he struggled to regain his senses.
“Im not a ghost. According to you, Im the yellow monkey.”
“The monkey bastard”
Once his fright settled, Sergeant Mikes anger started to thunder again. He had come to dish out some expletives but had instead become a laughingstock.
“You dumbsh*t. Do you dare hit your sergeant”
“You said something racist. I will tell them about that at headquarters.”
“Sh*t, you f*cking monkey!”
Sergeant Mike grit his teeth. As a place where people from all around the world gathered, a racist exclamation or discriminatory action could land him in an immediate disciplinary hearing. He could, at the worst, be kicked out of his station and be relocated.
“Hmmm, it seems like youre more monkey-like than I am. Maybe a gorilla”
Mike was a big man who weighed 120 kilograms and had a bent back and long arms. Mu Ssang searched him from head to toe and mocking laughter hung on his face.
“You coward, are you planning to report me like the wh*res on the streets”
“Whats cowardly Im simply using the rights I have.”
“Arent you trying to avoid my vendetta by using the law as an excuse”
“Vendetta” Mu Ssang tilted his head.
He had no idea what a vendetta was. Was it a challenge to a fight Another member who had been in hiding approached them.
“Hey, Park, are you training here again Pitiful, pitiful.”
“Chartres, youre like a vampire sneaking around at midnight.”
Mu Ssang knew Chartres had been there, so he remained calm, but Mike was surprised.
“Ugh, why are you here, old man”
“Park, a vendetta is the Corsicans tradition of revenge; they settle family issues with a formal fight. Since Corsica had been continuously invaded and colonized since the 10th Century, with foreign powers constantly fighting over their lands, the relations created by blood became more valued within society. When a relative was murdered by an enemy or a blood-related woman shamed by someone, Corsicans created weapons. That was the beginning of the vendetta tradition. The word refers to a tradition of revenge for ones kin.”
Chartres explained without even bothering to look at Mike. Mu Ssang understood Chartres explanation, but he didnt understand what that had to do with the sergeant and himself.
He had done nothing for which Mike could take revenge. He hadnt touched Mikes sister nor had he mocked Mikes wife.
“Blood revenge Why would you want that
“You humiliated me. This calls for the vendetta.”
Mike pulled a dagger from his pocket and growled like a beast. The moonlight shone off the knife. The handle was made out of deer bone, and it was double-sided. It was a dagger that Corsicans made for revenge. Of course, it was only made as a tourist souvenir, now, often seen in the markets near the city.
“Ha, Ive never seen a guy like this. Why are there so many idiots who cant differentiate between right and wrong, nowadays Youre saying that the punishment from yesterday wasnt enough, huh Youll come to your senses when you get pummelled, I suppose.”
Mu Ssang laughed at the situation. There was no way Mike would understand the Korean he was using. He switched to French:
“Chartres, youll be the witness. Go ahead, Mike.”
Chartres turned pale. Fighting in the middle of the night was enough to get them kicked out of the military. He knew that just being there would get him kicked out, too.
Chartres spread his arms as he pushed Mu Ssang back.
“I followed the sergeant because I was worried. Just let it go. A personal fight would mean a hearing for all of us.”
“Go away, oldie.”
Mike pushed Chartres shoulder away, and because of Mikes inhuman strength, Chartres fell to the ground. Mike immediately jabbed his dagger forward. Bloodlust started to seep into Mu Ssangs eyes. That strike had not one ounce of hesitation.
On top of that, Chartres had still been blocking his sight. The guys eyes didnt shake either. This bastard stabbed at a fellow soldier, like a beast. Mu Ssang felt that they were truly mercenaries for the first time: men with a job to kill.
Mike was excited. He thought that this was the perfect chance to attack Mu Ssang. From his experiences so far, this one strike could end this entire fight. He had no intention of killing; he just wanted to stab him in the stomach, enough to land the monkey in the hospital.
His pay would be cut, and he would go to prison, but he had gone through all of that before. Right now, he had to do something about Mu Ssangs effect on his mood. It was an example of his twisted pride.
Mu Ssang slapped him hard. Mike lost consciousness for a brief moment like a switch flipped on and off. He didnt know how the yellow monkey avoided his attack or when he was slapped.
The other cheek got hot. At the two slaps, the 120-kilogram man turned around before collapsing into the ground.
Mike was once a South American boxing champion, but with two slaps to his face, he became disoriented and could not counterattack. Chartres jaw dropped.
“Aghhh! I should have listened to Red-Nose.”
He was hit in the face, but the pain was spreading all over his body. Mike gritted his teeth and held back his moans. He regretted his actions, but it was too late. He cursed himself for not listening to Red-Noses advice.
A broken tooth got caught in his throat. He doubted if the Korean was a human. The second blow had been much stronger than the first. If he was hit one more time like that, he would die. Mike desperately opened his mouth.
“Stop it, dont do it.”
“I dont understand. Why do these scum only come to their senses after being hit” Mu Ssang murmured in Korean, kicking Mikes side.
The gentle kick broke his ribs.
Mike fell. Mu Ssang grabbed his ankles and dragged him to the edge of the cliff and held him upside down by the ankles.
The waves growled from beneath the cliffs.
Mike was terrified and screamed as if his lungs were being torn apart. Once this yellow monkey opened his hand, he was going to fall 70 meters onto the jagged rocks below. The sound of the waves crashing and the sight of the blue moon made his fear exponentially sharper.
He had lived a rough life, but it was the first time he felt such fear and pain. He pissed on himself while held upside down; the yellow liquid fell on his face, but he couldnt even feel that.
“Mike, youre trash. You should die.”
These cold words, offering no room for negotiation, filled his ears and cut through the sound of crashing waves.
“Please, save me. Im sorry.”
When he heard no reply, he became nearly petrified. Time passed slowly.
“Mike, youll watch your words. If I ever hear you saying or doing anything racist. we will meet here once more. Of course, then, I promise you the thrill of free-falling these 70 meters.”
“Okay. I promise. I swear on my country.” Mike shouted in case his voice wasnt heard.
“Im not interested in your country. Im thinking about a man falling 70 meters through the air, you see Hmm”
Mu Ssang smiled cruelly.
“I swear on the cape noir. I wont do it again. Save me.”
“You fell while you were on your midnight walk.”
“Right, I fell off some rocks.”
Mike nodded valiantly even while he was upside-down.
“Hey, be careful. I can feel my grip loosening.”
Mike stopped immediately.
“Ill let you live today. Next time, youre dead.”
Mike couldnt even nod. He was going to die in the hands of this little devil. Mu Ssang pulled him up as if he was pulling a radish from the ground and threw him back onto the cliff. He showed incomprehensible strength.
Mike lay on the ground and breathed roughly. He gathered his breath and clambered to his feet while swaying. He glanced at Mu Ssang before running into the darkness.
“I feel so inspired right now. I wish someone else was here to see this. Is this a special kind of martial art that only Koreans know of”
“Kind of.” Mu Ssang replied.
“Wind blew out of your hands, like one of those Kung Fu movies, didnt it”
Chartres had not seen Mu Ssangs hands move, but he had heard about Asians knowing martial arts. Mu Ssang didnt know whether to laugh or cry and found his expression changing into something strange.
“Its a secret, huh But still, cant you teach me I want to learn.”
“Chartres, air doesnt come out of palms.”
At those words, which didnt sound like a joke to him, Chartres face crumpled.
“But the strength you showed just now...”
A man couldnt hold onto someone as big as Mike with one hand. Even a black mountain bear wouldnt be able to do so. He didnt know whether Mu Ssang could blast air from his palms or whatnot, but he had witnessed an unrealistic show of strength, for sure.
“Shh, Chartres, you werent here tonight.” Mu Ssang stopped him from talking.
“Yes, I turned in early.”
Chartres nodded his head. From that night onwards, Mu Ssang and Chartres became closer friends. Friends only grew closer through sharing secrets, after all.
It was a holiday weekend, so all the off-duty mercenaries had crawled into town. The training grounds were empty. Mu Ssang wanted to test how much power he could extract.
He intended to measure the kinetic energy that occurred when his fist hit an object at full speed.
“Jang, help me out.”
“Eh! Im going out. ”
He was in formal wear that was pressed to the point it could cut his skin. His eyes narrowed like a buttonhole. It was the face he made when he was unwilling.
Jang Shin went into town during holidays, drinking and brushing up against women. He enjoyed the casinos, returning with empty pockets. Chinese people enjoyed gambling, mahjong and dice more than Koreans loved gostop. Mu Ssang fully understood Jangs actions.
There were only sweaty men around them all the time and a foreign life that limited their communication. A young man in his mid-20s cannot live like a monk.
Jang Shin didnt understand why Mu Ssang didnt enjoy women, alcohol, or gambling. When he had time, he practiced martial arts or read books. It was frustrating just to see him go about his day like that.
One time Jang Shin forced Mu Ssang to the casino. Mu Ssang stopped after pulling on a few 1-franc machines. He recommended Baccarat or Blackjack, but Mu Ssang rejected every recommendation.
“This is too complicated.”
Jang Shin was flabbergasted. How could such simple rules be too complicated!
“Park, why are you letting your imagination and determination rot Go fondle some breasts in the city!”
Mu Ssang laughed.
“Jang, dont risk your life, too much, going through as many women as you can. Youre not risking your life on this job to waste your money on them. Spend some of the time that youd otherwise use on women with your friend.”
“No. Why are you living such a boring life You dont want alcohol, women, nor casinos. Whats the point of living then Theres no mercenary like you in this world.”
“Didnt you say that you had a wife in your hometown”
“Ho Ming is my housewife.”
“Housewife Why are you mentioning a housewife”
“Housewives give birth and manage the household.”
“What the hell is this guy talking about” Mu Ssang was confused.
It was hard to understand this small Chinese mans culture. Perhaps there was a special meaning behind calling their wives “housewives.” Mu Ssang, at 182-centimeters tall gazed down at Jang Shin, who was 167-centimeters tall.
“Are you allowed to grab other women when you already have a wife”
“Are you a child or a rich mans son A husband works for money, and the housewife raises the children. Of course, we are allowed to grab other women.”
“Does that mean you do not interfere in each others personal lives”
“If a housewife cheats, you must beat her to death.”
Mu Ssang grabbed the back of his neck in response to Jang Shins calm voice. Having sex with other women while Hae Young sits at home That was something he would never think of doing.
“Then, what happens to the man who cheated”
“Men do that.”
Jang Shins reply was firm. It was as if he was reaffirming that chickens had two legs.
“So the wife who cheats on her husband should die, and the man who cheats on his wife is normal. Is that what all Chinese people think”
He sounded as sure as the four legs of a table. Mu Ssang felt his energy drain. He had heard that China, despite being a communist country, had a society where women were respected. Apparently, that was a false rumor.
“What youve just said doesnt make sense.”
“I find you the strange one. Youre handsome and tall. Youd be popular among women.”
“Popular Youre talking about the money I have. I dont want to mingle with them.”
He was in his early twenties when male hormones were supposedly raging. Of course, Mu Ssang had thoughts about women and times when the built-up energy soiled his bedsheets.
The problem was his sensitivity. His senses were tens and hundreds of times stronger than the average human. It was hard for him to endure the perfume that the Western women wore.
His sight also created problems. Being as sharp as an eagles, his eyes could see a womans sweat, blemishes, and the loose skin here and there, which killed his desire quickly.
He could also hear every conversation the prostitutes had and hear the women in the bars talking amongst themselves. Often, their conversations were about how much money they could get the soldiers to spend on them, killing his desire even more.
It was also hard to endure the foul breath of the people in the bar, and he hated the smell of the men who had just been with women. Ignorance was bliss, but he had knowledge. How could he lust after a woman who had slept with another man just several moments prior This was the reason for his monk-like life.
“Damn, I need to at least have a drink.” Jang Shin grumbled.
At Castelnau Bridge, Mu Ssang became a Da Ge to him. He grumbled, but in Jang Shins mind, whatever Mu Ssang requested was an order.
“Theres alcohol here.”
Mu Ssang pulled out a flask from his back pocket.
“Oh, thank you!”
With this one bottle of alcohol, his resistance fell to the wayside.
“So what kind of magic are you trying to do”
Mu Ssang smiled and raised his fist.
“I want to test how strong my fist is.”
“Oh I want to know, too.”
Jang Shin held the stand, which was as tall as his chest, that Mu Ssang directed him to hold. He placed a 1-kilogram dumbbell on it. In front of the dumbbell, he placed a hitting board that was covered in thick leather to prevent broken bones.
“Jang, I want you to measure the time of the dumbbells flight.”
After finishing the preparations, Mu Ssang went into his ready stance. His two feet stood firmly on the ground, and his back was straight as if to hold up the sky. In a stance that looked unmovable, he controlled his breathing to focus his weight into his lower body. He felt like a strong log, the completion of a stillness willed by the heavens.
A cold aura passed from his brain to his body; it shook momentarily. His fists and arms grew cold. This was an occurrence that had begun several days ago. The strength he gathered from his feet climbed up his spine. His fierceness spiraled through his body and pooled into his fist.
A strange sound, like a cannons blast, rang around the grounds. Many soldiers were outside enjoying their holiday or taking a nap. If not, they would have panicked at the sound.
The dumbbell shot forward, and Jang Shins jaw dropped as he watched it.
“Jang, wake up!”
The first test was a failure. Jang Shin, surprised at the display of power, had forgotten about measuring the time. He hurried to recover and place the dumbbell.
The dumbbell soared through the air, again. Jang Shin pressed down on the second counter and measured the time. The dumbbell shot forward like a bullet and fell 100 meters away. Its flight took 2 seconds. Mu Ssang calculated the force behind his energy.
1/2*1*(100/2)^2=1,250J, and the average after three tests was 1,300J. A 5.56-millimeter Famas bullet had the physical force of 1,700J
It was a rushed calculation without consideration for air resistance and impact. By looking at these results alone, his punch had the same power as a machine guns bullet.
Mu Ssang recalled a great resonance he had felt upon aiming at the object. He wasnt sure, but it seemed that it was the resonance wave his master had said would take 20 years to achieve.
A joyful laughter escaped him.