Chapter 9: Chapter 1, Episode 9: Legion Etranger
That was the first greeting from the staff sergeant.
The regiments garrison was in Calvi, a resort town on Corsicas northwest coast. It was across the Ligurian Sea from Cannes, famous for its international film festivals, and Nice, the largest resort in southern France. It was a popular tourist destination, and every summer, the number of passenger ships departing for Corsica from Nice doubled.
The headquarters of the Deuxieme Rep (2nd Airborne Regiment) was in a white fortress atop a hill overlooking the sea. It was built during the 15th century and reinforced by the 17th-century Genovians.
The view of Calvi Port from the fortress was spectacular. Passenger boats and fishing boats traveled slowly to and fro on the deep blue Mediterranean. Men and women entangled themselves in embarrassing poses on yacht decks. With some luck, viewers could see groups of dolphins jumping in and out of the water.
Mu Ssang was assigned to the 4th platoon of the 4th Battalion of the Deuxieme Rep. It consisted of two general combat platoons, one explosives platoon, and one sniper platoon, which was 140 people: six officers, a squadron commander, a platoon leader, 30 sergeants, and 100 soldiers.
On the second day after receiving his assignment, he started training.
The program focused on infiltration, destruction, and escape. They worked on a variety of skills, including high-altitude parachuting, mountain terrain traversing, skiing, reconnaissance, sniping, martial arts, diving, swimming, explosives detonation, communications, duty organizing, street fighting, cold weapons use, heavy weapons use, weapon operations, and driving. The sole purpose was to turn these men into battle droids.
They did ensure that trainees had rest and free time, but the training was hard work. They called the training an “invitation to Hell.” The instructors greeted the recruits with the words, “Welcomes to the gates of Hell.” And within two months, five recruits were unable to endure the training and left.
Gates of Hell Mu Ssang snorted. His body was different from the others bodies. When he ran through the hurdles with deadly determination, he could finish the 100-meter lap in 6 seconds. He could speed through 10 meters and jump up to 7 meters. He had the endurance of an adult marathon runner and the strength of a bull.
Because of the strange change that his body had gone through when he was eleven, it became strong but unstable, a double-edged sword. At 20, his master taught him martial arts, and through the Combined Repetitive Expelling Theory, he stabilized his body.
Monk Dae Woo stopped him from being a ticking time bomb, and Legion Etranger gave him his teeth and claws. After systematic training with modern weapons, Mu Ssang became a warrior and a sniper. On Corsica, the “ils de beauté (the beautiful island) in the Mediterranean, they refined the best and the worst killing machine in human history.
The real Hell for Mu Ssang was swimming and diving. He had grown up next to a bridge that crossed the Nakdong River, but unfortunately, dog-paddling was the extent of his swimming ability.
The unpredictability of the Nakdong River caused drowning accidents every year. Park Jin Bo and his wife worried about losing their only child and kept a constant eye on him to make sure he didnt play too close to the river. So, he never learned to swim. When he was a slave in his uncles house, he no longer had time to learn to swim.
The Deuxieme Rep did not accept his flimsy dog paddling. Sergeant Bernard of the diving division could not ignore this. Coldly, he tied Mu Ssangs legs together and threw him in the sea. Mu Ssang swallowed so much seawater it made him hate the milky limestone cliffs and the cobalt sea.
The Bijindos surrounding seas and the Mediterranean Sea shared the same indigo color. The Bijindo seas indigo was the source of heartbreaking memories, and the indigo of the Mediterraneans salty waters became another gate of Hell where foul words automatically welled up.
Even the Deuxieme Rep veterans had doubts about passing the 2000-meter underwater swimming and tidal training. He had to rely on flippers to complete the underwater swim. If his head broke the surface, a club flew his way.
Upon reaching the shore, he had to cross 500 meters of knee-deep marshy wetlands. A 7.62-millimeter bullet passed over his head like the wind. The recruits teeth rattled because of this vicious training.
After the training, they gave them 90 minutes of weapon maintenance before dinner. The recruits awaited this more eagerly than they wanted a woman in their bed.
Nine members of his squadron had finished the wetlands infiltration training and were laying with him, half-comatose, on the beach. He enjoyed the sunset from the sand with squad members Goldman, Emil, and Chartres. The April Atlantic wind was warm, and it tickled beneath his ears as he began to doze off in its passing softness.
Goldman was a new recruiter, Emil was a two-year veteran, and Chartres was a 10-year veteran. Goldmans face had turned white from tiredness. Mu Ssang, Emil and Chartres held a slow conversation.
“Emil, do you think this is the end of our swim with the fishes”
At Mu Ssangs words, his partner Emil laughed, “Why Are you disappointed”
“Not at all, I hate fish. I like eagles.”
“Park, if dont take the air training seriously, youll be hurt badly. Youre too reckless. A single mistake can turn you into a frog falling from 10,000 feet in the air” Chartres, the veteran, gave him advice.
“Im not big-nosed, Chartres, you are,” Mu Ssangs French was still extremely lacking.
“Park, you should date women so you can improve your French. It will take a lot of talking to seduce one.”
“Emil, stop it. Hes innocent, the type of person with a chastity belt on his penis. Not like you, who goes around everywhere,” Chartres bounced Emils advice right back at him.
Wherever there was a military, there were women. Whether a veteran or a newbie, they all rushed towards the backstreets of Ajaccio during the weekends. Since all they did during the week was eat and train, they swept the streets looking for a place to vent their energy like a bull in heat.
Mu Ssang never joined the hunt. He had sent Hae Young away, but he never thought of that as the end of their relationship. Chastity wasnt only for women. He would have been ashamed to look at her otherwise.
On weekends, he looked out on the horizon from atop the walls of the fortress. He drew his mothers and Hae Youngs faces in the sky. He recounted his masters teachings and went over the names that were on his death list.
“Why are you not tired, Park” Goldman had returned after emptying his stomach and looked at Mu Ssang with a tired look. “Im tired. You Koreans have high endurance.”
Goldman kicked the sand and turned around. He was a Spanish mixed martial arts champion, so he was confident in his physical ability. But he was exhausted and fatigued while the yellow-skin Korean had the energy to joke with his senior officers.
Private Emile elbowed Mu Ssang.
“He is a racist. Except for Jews, he considers everyone else inferior.”
“Like a Kedajjak.”
Mu Ssang wanted to hit the back of Goldmans head. What kind of trash was he
“Japanese are Kedajjak.”
“Oh, its a cultural thing.”
Chartres joined their conversation.
“Hes a Jew like I thought. I knew it ever since I heard the name, Goldman. A name withgold orsilver in it is always a Jewish name. Just like them, so attached to their money, huh”
Mu Ssang didnt reply to Chartres words and rolled his eyes. It seemed like cultural disrespect between countries existed everywhere.
“Here come the real racists.”
Mu Ssangs and Chartres heads turned back to the beach. Sergeant Paul Mike and two other soldiers were coming up from the beach. Mu Ssangs face crumpled. Mike, a black man, was a racist and an American imperialist. When he meets Asians, he calls them “monkey.” His father had been stabbed to death during World War II by a “Jap” as he called the Japanese.
The two soldiers attached themselves to Sergeant Mike. Mixing words with them always caused a scene. Mu Ssang covered his face with his Booney hat.
“Hey, theres a yellow monkey sunbathing,” Mike shouted to his soldiers.
“Ha, look at that bastard, hes swearing at you!”
Mu Ssangs expression soured. It was obvious that the sergeant wanted him to hear. Emil and Chartres glanced at Mu Ssang, but he pretended not to hear. It was bothersome and not worth it to react to the bullsh*t.
“Its a monkey that shoots and dances well.”
At the soldiers words, Mike laughed.
“Can a monkeys toe fit in the trigger”
“Even the Peking duck shoots a gun, why cant a monkey”
At the lack of reaction, they talked in loud voices.
“Why should a monkey be here anyways We should send them to the zoo.”
“No, you sell talented monkeys to the circus.”
“They dont have b*lls.”
“A monkey doesnt have the gall to do anything but giggle at bananas.”
Emil couldnt bear it any longer and said, “Park, the dogs are barking.”
Mu Ssang didnt feel anything. He liked how the sunlight hit his side and warmed him. It would be depressing to have this mood ruined by those ignorant people.
A soft voice leaked from under the large Booney hat, “Leave it. Dogs bark, humans cant.”
Sergeant Mike heard the broken, rough words, and his mood soured. His rough, tanned face instantly turned red.
“What did you say, monkey”
He walked over, stomping on the sand. He looked like a deer with large antlers trying to conquer a doe.
“Youre blocking the sun.”
A provoking reply came back, “Soldier, Im your sergeant. Stand.”
The military order within Legion Etranger was harsh. But they were promised some free time from it. They had more free time than normal company workers. Currently, they werent working or involved in an operation, so there was no reason to submit to a brash person.
“Its our free time right now. Move. Youre blocking the sun.”
“You monkey sh*t!”
Sergeant Mikes combat boot crashed down on Mu Ssangs head.
“What the hell” his friends shouted in shock. At that moment, they all imagined a cruel sight, Mu Ssangs damaged face.
Emils and Chartres eyes grew larger. The place where Mike had struck was empty, and all that remained was sand. Mu Ssang was lying down a foot away. It looked as if he hadnt moved, as his hat remained in the same position. Emils eyes moved frantically between Mikes foot and Mu Ssang.
“Emil, is Mike blind”
And so this special forces sergeant became known as the “blind soldier.”
“Maybe its different than it seems By the way, Im afraid of what might happen when Park gets angered.”
Legion Etranger was full of scum from all around the world. It was a place where people of all races, religions, and ideologies gathered. There were frequent fistfights, but nothing more severe than that. But Mikes actions were at a level where they couldnt be tolerated. He was a racist who caused many problems even on normal days. He was the type who got more confident in front of a crowd.
Chartres sat up immediately. “Mike, what do you think youre doing”
“Stay out of this, oldie.”
Chartres nickname, since he was over forty years old, was “oldie.” Mikes face crumpled even more.
He pushed Chartres shoulder violently.
“Youre going too far.”
At Chartres objection, Mike snorted. His nostrils enlarged, and the hair inside dangled out.
“Damned bastard, you should be cutting your nose hairs instead of annoying me.”
Chartres stomach began to growl, worried about his dinner.
“Too far Are you talking about me or that monkey”
Mike lifted his right fist showing Mu Ssang, and punched his left fist against his right arms bicep. This was a rude gesture in France. It was the same as holding up a middle finger. Mu Ssangs expression creased.
“Ha, this f*cker!”
Emil was angry. Mikes actions were over the line.
Mike turned back to his friends and asked, “Hey, Miller, what did we do”
“We were going back to the tent until the monkey called us b*tches, and therefore we stopped.”
“Ha, theres a b*tch here, too.” A laugh escaped from Mu Ssang.
Mike turned to stare at Chartres.
“Thats what he says.”
Mu Ssang stood. His intention of spending his time leisurely before dinner had been erased from his mind.
“Sergeant, are you happy when I call you blackie F*cking bastard.”
He said the last swear in Korean. His accent was lacking, but the meaning was certainly delivered. Swearing was done by the innuendos of the words and not by the language itself. The gestures, expressions, and tone were what made it swearing.
Mikes eyes turned red and his normally angered look intensified and turned his scowl even darker. He had been tried for several violent incidents because he was the type of person who lost all reasoning when angered.
Chartres face hardened because the sergeant was on the verge of exploding. He worried about Mu Ssang who was provoking a boar in heat. Mike would not stop just because someone advised him to.
“Monkey, take off your hat.”
“This is not the time when I heed orders.”
At his strong words, Mike finally exploded.
“Putain, son of a b*tch!” Mike, exclaiming a mix of French and English expletives, launched forward with two arms spread wide. “Argh!” he exclaimed as he fell unconscious to the ground.
Park stood still. No one saw the fist that landed squarely on Mikes jaw. The onlookers had no idea what had happened.
“Huh. Sergeant, are you digging your own grave with your penis”
At Chartres words, Emil laughed. His mouth twitched with the urge to say something, but the backlash of chewing out a sergeant was large. Mu Ssang glared at the soldiers who stumbled about then took off his hat.
“Red-nose, do you have a death wish” he asked, recognizing one of the soldiers.
“Flying viper!” Red-nose shrieked as he stumbled back and thought that if this was the flying viper from the Ecole, then Sergeant Mike had definitely picked on the wrong person.
“Take him away.”
Red-nose and the other soldier helped up Mike and disappeared like lightning.
“What did you do” Emil asked Mu Ssang.
With their trained eyes, all they had seen was Mu Ssang throwing his fist forward while avoiding Mikes lunge.
At Mu Ssangs simple reply, Emil choked out a laugh. He didnt know the reason, but he felt refreshed.
“Whats the deal withthe flying viper”
In places where people gathered, there was always a dynamic like this: a bastard, a vain person, a nice person, and those who went with the flow.
The Deuxieme Rep the first to be sent out when foreign intervention was needed. Unit operations are independent, but operational orders come from the 11th French Brigade. According to the command system, this battalion of the 11th Brigade was the first target to fall.
A soldiers purpose is to kill the enemy, and he moves on command. Even if he didnt want to kill an enemy, once ordered, he had no choice but to do so. But murder was murder no matter how it was reworded. When you kill others, you must also be prepared to die. To decrease the chance of dying, an increase in abilities is necessary.
When he was a teenager, Mu Ssang had crossed many hills of life and death. He knew the difference between the living and the dead already.
His body had exceeded human limits. What was the point of Carl Lewis running 100 meters with a lap time of 9.7 seconds or running 100 meters in 20 seconds He couldnt expect any more from the Deuxieme Reps training regimen; it was simply warm-up exercises for him. He was a soldier of the second rank, he was not in a position to ask for personal training.
Mu Ssang was anxious because he didnt know when the Deuxieme Rep would be dispatched. South Koreas military tensions against North Korea were high, but no Korean soldier thought war would occur.
Legion Etranger was different. Headquarters could dispatch them to the battlefield tomorrow. France officially had no overseas territories. Only West African countries, former French colonies, were still under French influence. When France needed armed forces, they sent out troops from Legion Etranger. It is deployed immediately according to strategic and tactical needs. Thats why they fed them well.
They never knew when theyd be sent to the battlefield, and bullets werent choosy about whom they hit. This is why Mu Ssang risked his life to learn the Five Combined Movements.
“The person most prepared survives.”
He even trained during his free time. That was why Sergeant Mike had teased him with the name “dancing monkey.”
Corsicas clear air and Deuxieme Reps systematic training became a hammer to refine his mind and body. The Five Combined Movements training became the fire that would forge his mind and body and take it to the next level.
Monk Dae Woo had referred to Mu Ssang as Asuras incarnation. Corsica was where Asura washed with fire, worked with a hammer, and prepared to face the world.
10 weeks had passed since he had moved into the Deuxieme Rep when Jang Shin landed in Corsica, as promised, after completing his Ecole training. He showed excellent talent for handling explosives, so Pief had assigned him to the 3rd platoon, which dealt with firepower.
400 meters south of the fortress, where the Deuxieme Rep trained, was a coastal cliff called Corse that was about sixty-six meters high. Beneath the cliff, the rough waves of the Mediterranean clashed constantly. Mu Ssang became a part of the cliff. Two hours had passed since he began his meditation at its edge.
The waves scattered into foam. His meditation ended, and he stood up. He began to unwind his body by expelling and taking in energy. Warmth gathered in his body.
This was a continuation of the Combined Repetitive Expelling Theory. Unlocking the 36 veins according to the paths of his lowest, highest, and middle cores took more than three hours. Pief had granted him this time.
The Resonance that his master had talked of was slowly coming to him. Foreign energy flowed through the body, and sometimes it was hot and sometimes cool. Meditation helped him focus that foreign energy into a specific area. Concentrated Resonance dramatically increased the destructive power of his hands and feet. It could break rocks and crush trees.