Chapter 25: Chapter 5, Episode 2: The Surreal Black Mamba
“Look, friend, were all going to die, the problem is when. We might die today by a gun or die on our beds in 60 years. Its a life that will end sooner or later. Just think about how youll die instead.”
“I just feel like Ill die in this cursed land.”
“Dont say such unfortunate things. Theres a saying in Korea that spoken words will soon turn into seeds.”
“Words into seeds Are you saying that there will be seeds every time we talk”
In his frustration, Black Mamba slapped his hand against his forehead. Not even his peoples sayings could come across correctly since his culture and Jang Shins culture were so different from each other. Perhaps this was why he missed his motherland.
“Dont worry. Well be entering without the guerrillas noticing us. Were just extracting The Raccoon. Well avoid battle. Okay!”
Another person climbed up the hill.
“What a beautiful sunset!”
It was the guide, Ombuti.
“Im tired of seeing the vast wastelands, but the sunset is fine. Try this.” Black Mamba offered him some grasshoppers.
“Oh, those are okay.” Ombuti chewed on the grasshopper without hesitation.
“Its a good source of protein. Better than beef.”
At Black Mambas words, Ombuti grabbed another grasshopper.
“Ho, its good. The Koran said to eat grasshoppers. But it seems like your team doesnt welcome the grasshopper.”
Black Mamba stared into the strong and prideful eyes of the nobleman. His temper was telling by the gleam of his eyes.
“Youre not young. Arent you tired”
“Im an Imoharen.”
As expected, a strong response came back.
“How did you become a guide Our tasks are dangerous,” Jang Shin asked.
“No problem. Im also a person who receives his salary from France. I need to work for my food.”
“Youre right. Food is important.” Black Mamba nodded his head.
Money for food was important. It was these salarymen who made the world run. Those who did not earn money were considered a waste of space. And when one became a waste of space, they werent treated like humans.
“Why are you here instead of taking a break”
At Black Mambas question, Ombuti started to unravel a long story.
“I was born in Nigers Kel Ayr. Its a small village on the outskirts of the Tenere desert. I lost my parents at the age of ten. The Imran who took care of livestock took me in. I wandered the lands searching for grasslands with my stepfather, while herding goats, sheep, and donkeys. I liked looking at sunsets that lingered on the horizon, just like today. All I knew was setting up tents, breaking up firewood, securing the goats, and milking them. My nomad life ended at the age of 19. A strong drought dried all the grass, killed all the livestock, and killed even humans. I started my business after leaving my hometown, succeeded, married, and had a daughter. My daughter grew beautifully up until the age of 13. Misfortune attacked abruptly.”
Ombuti talked about his past as though he was taken back to those times. Black Mamba was rather lacking in the language department. He couldnt understand even half of what Ombuti was saying in French, and he was curious as to why Ombuti had settled with them.
“Wait, what is that”
Black Mamba interrupted Ombutis speech. A small thing floating on the horizon was captured in his sight. It moved across the reddish-brown sky.
It was captured in his sight easily because it moved with the horizon as its background. Even in their tactics lessons, they were taught to avoid standing on the horizon.
Black Mamba could recognize a moving person at about 4 kilometers with his naked eye. If he could barely discern the object, that meant it was at a greater distance. He lifted his binoculars to his eyes and zoomed in. On the horizon, there were people with guns slung across their backs. They were around 15 kilometers away.
“What stupid guests.”
Black Mamba handed the binoculars to Jang Shin.
“F*ck, it hasnt even been two days!” Jang Shin complained with a gravelly voice.
“Ombuti. We have guests. We will have to hear the rest of your story later.”
Ombuti looked at Black Mamba with a strange look.
“Damn it, how did they get on our tails when Ive purposely selected a safe route But how can he even see them with his naked eye”
Black Mamba slid down the slope after passing the binoculars to Jang Shin. He had to report to the captain and get ready to greet the guests.
“Theyre approaching in 15 kilometers”
The captain found it hard to believe. The zebra-patterned binoculars had the limit of 10 times their sight. In theory, that meant they could see as far as 10 kilometers ahead of their point. If it was 15 kilometers, it meant that Black Mamba could see 1.5-kilometers farther with his naked eye. At least, that was in theory.
Binoculars had a small range, and the range became smaller the farther the object was. Unless they were fixed on a certain point, it was impossible to grasp a moving object 15 kilometers away. On top of that, it was near sunset.
Could he possibly see something 15 kilometers ahead with the sun glaring into his face
It was impossible. But he couldnt ignore the report of an elite, no, god sniper.
“And did you confirm that with your instincts”
“No. With my eyes.”
The captain stared at Black Mambas unwavering gaze then turned to Burimer.
“I believe Black Mamba,” Burimer said before being asked.
“Black Mambas followers, here or there.” The captain smiled wryly and continued his orders.
“Miguel, change positions with Jang Shin.”
“Chartres, start preparing the mortar for back up with Jang Shin.”
“Burimer, get all the snipers to their points. Everyone is going into hiding and avoiding battle unless contact is initiated.”
The captain wished to avoid battle when possible. Their target was The Raccoon. Their objective wasnt to destroy guerrillas, but if they couldnt avoid it, they would have to kill first.
“Show me your skills.”
The Uldi Hamarl that had been full of jokes and laughter was suddenly filled with bloodlust. There wasnt a single sound even with 11 people running about.
Ombuti found that his preconceptions were wrong. People who knew how to rest properly and move when asked were the true warriors.
“Black, the enemy isnt human. The enemy is but an enemy.” Burimer patted Black Mambas shoulder.
Even if he was the most gifted fighter, this was his first battle with orders to kill. He was worried.
“Ill work for my pay, so dont worry.”
Burimer relaxed at Black Mambas sharp smile.
The sniper team—the captain and Burimer, Mike and Mark, Black Mamba and Emil—climbed the hill of Uldi Hamarl. The supporting cover firing squad—Chartres and Jang Shin, Mouris and Miguel, and the emergency doctor, Bellman—went towards the rear.
“Mon Dieu (What the hell)”
The captain rubbed his eyes. Black Mamba, who had been climbing the hill right before his eyes, disappeared. Whether he had sunk into the ground or flown into the sky, he was gone. All that he could see was Private Emils back, shouldering the Minimi, climbing the hill.
Lieutenant Burimer turned around towards the captain and nodded. Even a veteran sniper such as the captain would have been surprised.
“Logic doesnt work on Black. Youll be even more surprised once the battle actually starts.”
Black Mambas hiding skills that melted him into his surroundings were an actual nightmare. It was the height of talent that even a veteran sniper with 10 years of experience wouldnt even dream of having.
“Miguel, have you confirmed”
Miguel, who had been observing the surroundings, passed the binoculars.
“Its at 11 oclock. Its over two platoons in number, with a BTR.”
The captain swore as he confirmed their presence. Black Mambas words had been correct. A group of guerrillas filled his binoculars sight.
“Damn, theyre around four kilometers, now. Theyve moved quickly on their BTRs and bikes. Wheres Black Mamba”
“We dont know.”
At Burimers answer, the captain frowned.
“You dont know”
“Yes, no one can find Black.”
“Wouldnt he be near his partner”
“Its no use. You wouldnt know even if hes standing right in front of you.”
“Hm, how could that be! Has everyone been stationed at their points”
“Then tell them to relax. They might change directions.”
The captain spoke into his headset.
“Black Mamba, where are you”
“Im at 11:15 from your position, 15 meters ahead.”
Paul searched with wide eyes, but small and large boulders were all he could see. From the front, they were concealed but were open in the back. All he could see was the back of Emils head where he was readying his machine gun. Paul shook his head.
“I cant believe it. A call name is a call name, is that it”
Unfortunately, against Pauls wishes, the armed guerrillas with two BTR-152s didnt change their direction; they approached Uldi Hamarl.
“A small regiment with two BTRs Impossible. Weve really been caught resting on our tails.” The captain called out this observation.
The guerrillas advanced without first sending a watch squad. Some were on BTRs and the others were on bikes. They approached without order or formation, he couldnt tell how they were armed. They had increased their mobility just as he had worried they would.
The captain thought their trail had been picked up by the guerrillas sentries, but the truth was that the Musulda, Lieutenant Colonel Mustas sentry platoon, were moving around looking for a place to rest. They also knew that there was clean water at Uldi Hamarl.
The coincidental meeting created an unfortunate event between the guerrillas and Team Ratel. Many wars had begun unintentionally, and many battles left unintentional results throughout history!
Black Mamba observed the approaching guerrilla platoon with a cold eye. It was a distance not in the range of normal human sight, but he could discern their weapons and appearance down to the very emblem on their clothes. He found his sight training rewarding, once more.
More than a dozen of them were armed with AK47s and Panzerfausts, and the other ten were on five bikes, two on each, and armed with RPG7s. The rest were on top of the BTRs. The ones on the bikes were adults with faces covered in litams, and there were many young faces on top of the BTR-152.
Not many of them were in proper uniforms. Some had different kinds of colored clothes, and if they hadnt been carrying weapons, they could have been mistaken for refugees.
The AK47 had a simple design, with only eight parts to it. It could be disassembled anywhere on top of a plastic bag or cloth. The only maintenance needed was wiping the chamber and gas cylinder with an oilcloth. Even the newest of newbies could disassemble it, clean it, and reassemble it, but there was no problem leaving it dirty. It still worked even with gunpowder and dust sticking to the cylinder.
Over 100 million AK47s and its variations were released to the world. That was more than the total number of soldiers all over the world. Distribution of the cheap AK47 was focused on third-world countries, creating more guerrillas and more young soldiers. If the AK47 had been more elaborate, harder to handle, and weak inside, there would be fewer young soldiers.
Colonel Musta, one of Habibs subordinates, was called “Kanma” (named for a magical African voodoo beast that causes calamity and death) in the Kanem and Tibesti regions.
Musta was in charge of gathering recruits for the FROLINAT. He usually attacked the locals in the Sahel regions and captured boys over 10 years old to be soldiers. He was known to be a psychopath who boiled three-year-olds for his meals.
He attacked not only Chad but villages in other African countries with unstable regimes. His remorseless actions against other tribes were because of tribal loyalty instead of his nationality.
The biggest reason for his attacks was recruitment. He replenished his number of soldiers with kidnapped boys and massacred the other villagers to leave no witnesses.
There were 560 FAP-trained soldiers per regiment that he led under Habibs orders. Currently, 75 percent of their forces were trained by the North Korean governments officials at the Faya training center.
He roamed around Kanems borders with the remaining 147 subordinates. He had sent out four groups of search forces, over three days, between empty lands and plains but had not seen hide nor shadow of the French special forces.
Musta decided to hold camp at the red sandstone valley that the caravans called Uldi Hamarl. He sent out three contacts to the rest of his groups and led the bike towards the red valley.