A Mercenary's War

 
 
 

A Mercenary's War Chapter 1-4


Chapter 1: The Prepared Survivor

Gao Yang's body was being tossed around like a ragdoll before his seat belt promptly pulled him back into his seat. Other than seeing the nonstop flashes of lightning from the airplane's window, Gao Yang could hear the cloudbursts hitting the body of the plane accompanied by the booming thunder. Even worse, this shitty plane was at least twenty years old. These factors combined made Gao Yang feel regret for the first time since his decision to go to Africa.

 

The worn-out plane managed to somehow get caught in this godforsaken weather, making Gao Yang feel like his twenty-three year long life might come to an end.

 

Strangely, he wasn't panicked at all. In fact, he was trying to figure out exactly where they were. Or rather, where they were in the sky. If he were to die, at the very least he should find out where he was going to die.

 

Gao Yang turned his head intending to ask the tour guide beside him if he knew their current location. Unfortunately, Gao Yang immediately gave up on the idea as the tour guide was furiously drawing a cross on his chest and yelling out prayers. Gao Yang decided it was best not to disturb him.

 

Everything was in chaos inside the twenty cabin plane as everyone was in a frenzy. Two of the hunting company's staff members who were initially consoling everyone were now crying louder than the rest of the passengers.

 

Gao Yang was currently the most cool-headed in the aircraft cabin, but his composure didn't last for long. All sorts of feelings rushed to him at once—fear, despair, and remorse, especially once Gao Yang thought about his parents. Finally, he involuntarily let out a bitter cry.

 

The thing that Gao Yang was most afraid of was not the impending doom, but rather the pain his parents would have to endure following his death. 

 

Time seemed to pass by excruciatingly slowly as they approached death's doorsteps. So slow that it allowed people to reflect on their entire lives. Gao Yang was currently experiencing exactly this as his twenty-three year old life's events were flashing by in his eyes like a movie.

 

While Gao Yang was reminiscing about his life, the plane's altitude dropped lower and lower. After a huge jolt, the head of the plane started plummeting downwards.

 

When the lights in the cabin suddenly switched off, Gao Yang mustered all his strength to curl up into a ball with his two hands protecting the back of his head.

 

After a dreadfully loud crash, Gao Yang abruptly face-planted into the chair in front of him. The impact left him completely dazed. Both his shoulders and his stomach were pulled back by his seat belt in one powerful jerk. It was as if he was getting cut in half, making Gao Yang feel closer to death.

 

Gao Yang's eyes were squeezed shut. But, after the sharp pain, he sensed that he was submerged in something chilly and immediately realized that he was in water.

 

Gao Yang immediately held his breath instinctively. A few moments later, Gao Yang realized that he wasn't dead yet. The plane fell into the water and he knew he had to head up to the surface.

 

Gao Yang opened his eyes. Even though it was very dark, with the help of a flashlight, he was still able to see vague outlines of shapes underwater.

 

The plane broke into two pieces and the split happened right above Gao Yang's head.

 

Gao Yang tried to unbuckle his seatbelt, but he couldn't find the release clutch. Time was ticking away. Just when Gao Yang was almost out of breath, he suddenly remembered that the tour guide carried a hunting knife on his waist.

 

Gao Yang reached out with his left hand to first find the tour guide's arm. Moving his hand downwards, he finally found the knife's handle.

 

After drawing out the knife, he severed the seat belt. Gao Yang resisted the urge to head up, and reached out to the tour guide. He wanted to cut of his seat belt as well except he saw the remains of the tour guide's open skull. He immediately gave up on saving him, and reached underneath the seat to open a life jacket. By kicking with his legs, he floated his way up to the surface.

 

When he finally reached the surface, he desperately gasped for air. Gao Yang immediately put on the life jacket and pulled the attached rope. He felt it rapidly inflate with air. Gao Yang finally released a big sigh of relief.

 

Nobody would have imagined that a regular plane like theirs would fall into water. It was so unrealistic to the point that no one else had thought to grab the life jacket underneath their seat.

 

Alert even in a hectic situation, Gao Yang didn't forget to take out the life jacket. Thankfully, it was still in good condition, but as for what to do next, Gao Yang was completely bewildered. 

 

Even though it was still the middle of the day, due to the howling winds and heavy rainfall, it was as dark as night. In addition, the rainstorm made it impossible to see where shore was as the rain was continuously splashing across the surface. Gao Yang's only wish was to find a place to get to the shore but he had no idea which direction to swim.

 

Feeling a bit of panic, Gao Yang randomly chose a direction and started to swim with all his might. However, he soon realized that every time he kicked his leg, he felt a piercing pain in his left knee. Furthermore, even if the life jacket was providing him buoyancy, he didn't have any energy to swim.

 

Without much choice, Gao Yang stopped his attempt in swimming to the shore and decided to float in the water to rest. It was at this moment that Gao Yang discovered that he was being pushed by a current.

 

The current signaled that he was in a river and not a lake, making him feel considerably more at ease. By drifting with the current and using minimal energy to swim at an angle, he would be able to reach the shore.

 

This new discovery made Gao Yang release a huge sigh of relief. He then found that he was still holding the knife tightly within his hands, a necessary item to survive in the wilderness. However, he couldn't hold to the knife since it would interfere with his swimming. Not wanting to lose the knife, he stuck it into his belt and then fastened it tighter around his waist.

 

Gao Yang wanted to rest before attempting to approach the shore. Except he didn't get to rest long enough before hearing an ominous burst of gunfire.

 

Gao Yang stretched out his neck to take a look and was alarmed to discover that somewhere up ahead was a huge foggy area.

 

The fog indicated that there was either a waterfall or dangerous rapids. Either of these places would be fatal to Gao Yang in his current condition.

 

Furiously swearing, Gao Yang paddled with his life on the line, hoping to reach the shore before arriving in the danger zone. However, with his current strength, he couldn't go against the rising water flow.

 

Finally, Gao Yang was washed down a waterfall. Luckily this waterfall wasn't too steep and Gao Yang only choked on some water. Coming out of the water dazed, he realized that he could see both sides of the river.

 

Ironically, seeing the shore now led Gao Yang to feel that it was a bad omen. The shore signified that the river channel was becoming narrower and the current would be more turbulent. In addition, there were so many reefs that the whole river was filled with life-threatening obstacles.

 

At this point, Gao Yang completely ignored the pain from his left knee and used both his hands and legs to avoid the reefs at all costs. Eventually, his luck ran out and he rammed into a huge reef. Everything went pitch black.

 

An unknown amount of time passed before he finally opened his eyes. He felt sharp pains throughout his entire body, making him feel helpless and that it was better off being dead than alive.

 

Once Gao Yang became a bit more aware of his surroundings, he discovered he was actually only four to five meters away from the shoreline. Most importantly, his feet could touch the river's soft mud bed.

 

Suddenly filled with hope, Gao Yang felt a surge of energy from within his body. Utilizing all four limbs, he crawled up the shore with much difficulty. After his upper torso was out the water, he took a half hour break and then pulled himself out of the water.

 

Once he was on land, he felt tired as f*ck. Not only was he exhausted, but he was hungry—so terribly hungry.

 

Gao Yang knew even though he managed to survive the plane crash by pure luck, danger was still imminent as this was Africa. In Africa's wilderness, being eaten by a wild animal wouldn't even be acknowledged by the news since it was such a common occurrence.

 

Taking in the surroundings, Gao Yang found out that he was in the savannahs. There were grasslands as far as one could see with huge trees sprinkled here and there. The sun was close to the horizon so Gao Yang didn't know if it was morning or evening because he couldn't figure out which direction was which. 

 

After taking a quick glance around, Gao Yang did some quick exercises. He then realized his body condition wasn't as bad as he thought other than his left knee. Fortunately his bone was all right and it was just an outer wound. He felt a dull ache throughout the rest of his body, but other than that he wasn't really hurt. 

 

Gao Yang let out a sigh of relief knowing that he didn't have a major injury and started inspecting his personal belongings. Being a military enthusiast and a veteran backpacker, he had a habit of bringing his PSK around no matter what, making it a major benefit for his current situation.

 

The so-called PSK, is an English abbreviation for Personal Survival Kit. As a military enthusiast and a wilderness survival show addict, Gao Yang carried the PSK fanny pack around his waist all-year round. Even though he was sometimes labeled as delusional, his persistence had finally paid off.

 

The only thing Gao Yang regretted was that the PSK was small for the sake of portability. Before leaving for Africa, Gao Yang chose specific items that weren't too useful for his current situation.  

 

His PSK contained two big bars of chocolate, a fire stick, a compass, a magnifying glass, ten meters of paracord, five fish hooks, ten meters of fishing line, a survival whistle, four condoms, and a first aid kit.

 

Originally, Gao Yang's PSK had way more things, but because he was flying by airplane, he could only bring his knife, lighter, and other related items in his carry-on. Luckily, he obtained a knife from the tour-guide, one of the most important items for survival in the outdoors.

 

As essential high calorie outdoor perishables, the two giant chocolate bars were currently Gao Yang's most important possessions.

 

While Gao Yang nibbled on his chocolate bars, he felt an urge to cry.

 

He didn't dare to eat all of the chocolate and only devoured one of them. If he weren't so hungry, he would've only eaten a few small pieces of chocolate. He knew while he couldn't find food, these two bars of chocolate were life-savers.

 

After he finished eating and was waiting for his strength to recover, he closely examined the knife he got from the tour guide in order to calm his mind.

 

The knife's craftsmanship was of high calibre and with one look, one could tell that it was handmade. It was about thirty-two centimeters in length and around five millimeters in thickness. It had a tear-drop shaped tip with its body sharpened over a large surface area, and a brass handle made from desert metal and an extremely beautiful wood. The most exquisite part was the knife's hamon-styled edge. Gao Yang was also delighted to know that the knife was made of carbon-steel instead of stainless steel. This was because the majority of stainless steel products were crappy mass produced goods that could never be forged into such a beautiful blade.

 

Testing out the knife's sharpness, Gao Yang found it could easily be used for shaving. After thinking about how the previous owner must have cherished the knife, Gao Yang let out a sigh. The knife's previous owner was a white South African man who was Gao Yang's hunting group's tour guide. During the flight, Gao Yang even chatted with him regarding the knife. Who would have thought that the knife would ultimately end up in his hands? 

 

Gao Yang felt sad that he was the only one that survived the crash, but was thankful for his great luck. When everyone was selecting seats before take-off, they all avoided the uncomfortable tail area, but Gao Yang chose the tail because he knew it was the safest part of the airplane. Apart from good luck, this was the other reason why he survived this plane crash.

 

Gao Yang shook his head, trying to force himself to stop thinking of useless things.  He fished out his compass and was astonished to find that the sun was located to the west, indicating that it was currently the afternoon. Gao Yang's plane had left around this time period, meaning that he  had been unconscious for a whole twenty-four hours.

 

Gao Yang did not know just how far he floated in those twenty-four hours, but he knew that the farther he drifted away from the crash site, the less of a chance he'd get rescued. Another impending issue now was that the sky was currently dark.

 

Thanks to shows like Animal Planet and Man vs. Wild, Gao Yang had an understanding of how terrifying the African plains were at night. He didn't dare linger any longer and he struggled to get on his feet. His best option was to seek shelter or at least make a campfire before it got even darker.

The riverbank had tons of washed-up branches that were dry, making it a quick task to gather them. He first found a sufficient length stick to act as his crutch and then gathered as many dry branches as possible to prepare for his first night in the African plains. 

 

While doing his tasks, Gao Yang didn't forget to take note of any sounds from all four directions. He had to be on guard against many things. Since it was currently in the middle of the rainy season, the grass in the plains were very long and luscious. If one did not wish to be suddenly attacked by a wild beast, then one had to vigilant.

 

Gao Yang decided to camp out farther away from the riverbank to avoid any beasts that might approach the water for a drink. Being away from the riverbank also would protect him in case there was a sudden increase in the water level. During the rainy season, even if there was no rainfall, it was normal for flash floods to occur which would exponentially increase the downstream river currents.

 

Gao Yang's plan was to first find shelter for the night and then forage for food the next day with his fishing hook and line since he still had them; there was a high chance for catching fish.

 

As long as there was food, Gao Yang would be able to survive a couple of days. While waiting for his knee to recover, he could send signals for help and hopefully be rescued. If no one came, he could wait to recover and then create a wooden raft and sail down the current. He firmly believed that there would definitely be people who lived near the river; the only problem was how far they were.

 

With his essential survival items, he had faith in staying alive. However, it seemed like the heavens were adamant in opposing him. Just when Gao Yang was using the paracord to make a bundle of firewood while heading towards his camp, he suddenly heard a loud gunshot.

Chapter 2: Gun Warfare

The sudden sound of a gunshot left Gao Yang dumbfounded. Before he could even call for help, a fierce blast of gunshots erupted.

 

In response to the explosive sounds, Gao Yang abruptly turned his head. There were two opposing tribes with raised guns just five to six hundred meters away. Though they weren't too far, Gao Yang couldn't see very clearly. Yet, he was sure that they weren't hunting. They were exchanging fire. This was a battle.

 

Gao Yang's heart sank. Without a second thought, he lay prone in the grass. Though he was far from the action, Gao Yang didn't want to get hit by a stray bullet, nor did he want to be discovered by either side. Who knows what kind of people were fighting. It was best to stay out of it.

 

His ears rang with the sound of gunshots and his line of sight was obstructed by tall strands of grass. Nevertheless, Gao Yang had no intentions of peeking out to check what was going on. He only prayed that no one could see him.

 

The battle started abruptly. Although the gunfire seemed to be dying down, it didn't quite come to a complete stop. In fact, Gao Yang was startled to hear the sounds draw closer and closer.

 

The sound of gunshots were sparse, but they were closing in on him—fast. 

 

Gao Yang groaned inwardly. He felt his mouth going dry, his hair standing up, and both arms trembling uncontrollably.

 

He forced himself to calm down. Pulling out his hunting knife from his waist pocket, he took a few deep breaths and carefully raised his head to examine his surroundings.

 

Two black men in camouflage, one behind the other, ran towards Gao Yang's hiding spot. Chasing after them were seven to eight soldiers who were constantly shooting at them. Just then, the man who was lagging behind took a shot to the chest, resulting in a burst of blood. The man fell to the ground.

 

As the only one left, the black man ran towards Gao Yang. What disturbed him most was the exceptional speed at which the man ran. A minute after the gunshot, what was a good several hundred meters between them was now just fifty meters. The man quickly closed the distance between him and Gao Yang as he was desperately fleeing for his life. 

 

From time to time, the black man shot a few rounds behind him while running in order to slow down the soldiers. Once again, he turned around to shoot, but this time his gun didn't make a sound. He'd run out of bullets. In that moment, a single bullet shot the center of his forehead dead on. With a muffled "Poof!", the black man's brains exploded.

Laying in the grass, Gao Yang didn't need to raise his head to see the event unfold. If the black man didn't die, all he had to do was walk two steps forward and he would have treaded onto Gao Yang. 

 

There was a celebratory cheer when the remaining black man fell. It was at this moment that Gao Yang wanted to actually cry. He regretted not running when it first started. If he'd run from the very start, then perhaps there wouldn't have been a battle. Now that he wanted to run, it was too late to do so.  

 

The cheering quickly came to a stop and a voice followed after.

 

"Lago, go and take a closer look. Everybody else, clean up. Let's quickly get out of here."

 

The person spoke English. Although he had an accent, Gao Yang could understand him with no problem.

 

The sound of footsteps drew closer. He was so close that he could touch the corpse if he reached out his hand. Gao Yang knew he couldn't hide out for much longer, and so after some hesitation, he decided to take action.

 

To avoid any misunderstandings, he put his hunting knife behind his waist, laid on the ground, and said in English, "Don't shoot! I am Chinese. I don't have a gun, and I come in peace. I survived a plane crash. Listen carefully. I am Chinese. I survived a plane crash, and I come in peace."

 

"Who is it? Come out with your hands up."

 

Gao Yang was slightly relieved when they didn't immediately shoot. 

 

"I'm coming out. Do not shoot! Sorry, I'm seriously injured. I can't move quickly. Please don't shoot."

 

As he spoke, Gao Yang slowly stood up and raised both hands. Just then, he noticed that the black man who stood closest to him was just seven to eight meters away. Besides him, there were six other black men scattered about a hundred meters apart with their guns pointed at him.

 

After analyzing his face, the man closest to Gao Yang decided he wasn't dangerous and his face relaxed a little. From afar someone screamed, "Lago, who is he?"

 

The man named Lago raised his bloodstained AK-47. Although he was dressed in tattered camouflage attire, he surprisingly was wearing flip-flops. His outfit didn't quite look like that of a standard soldier.

 

Lago pointed his gun directly at Gao Yang, as he hurriedly ran towards him. Taking a closer look, he tilted his head before loudly calling to the people behind him, "It's a yellow little sh*t. He says he's Chinese and doesn't have a gun."

 

Gao Yang raised his arms high. Though he was incredibly nervous, he managed to force a smile, "Sir, I was in a plane crash. I am the only survivor. If you and your friends could kindly help, I will do all that I can to repay you all. Please, whatever you do, please don't kill me. I'll give you lots of money. Saving me will be a blessing for you all."

 

As he fearfully spoke, Gao Yang's eyes never left Lago's rifle, as that b*stard Lago had his finger on the trigger. He and Lago were practically face to face, with the gun in arm's reach from his head. 

 

After Gao Yang finished speaking, he received no reply from Lago. Instead, he heard people from afar say the words that he'd dreaded to hear: "Kill him!"

 

Gao Yang's heart froze. Lago didn't immediately pull the trigger, but turned his head to shout, "He says he'll give us lots of money."

 

"Moron! Kill him!"

 

Hearing them say, "Kill him!" once more, Gao Yang no longer hesitated. As Lago turned his head, Lago took advantage of that opportunity to grab the rifle. He pointed it to the sky, pulled out his hunting knife with his right hand, and brought Lago to the ground with his own body.

 

Suppressing Lago, Gao Yang attacked him with his knife. Lago pulled the trigger instinctively, causing his gun to rapidly fire which rang in Gao Yang's ears. Gao Yang persistently held on to the now piping hot barrel, trying his best to not let the scorching muzzle point towards him. He then took his hunting knife and ruthlessly stabbed Lago's abdomen. 

 

Shifting his position, Gao Yang pulled out the knife and mercilessly rammed it into Lago's heart. Lago shuddered for a moment before he finally stopped moving.

 

It sounded slow in description, but in actuality, all of this happened instantly. It only took Gao Yang two to three seconds to make his move from start to finish. In those few seconds, the men that stood far from Gao Yang had only just registered what had happened.

 

Gao Yang grabbed the AK-47 and took a deep breath. He got down to one knee, raised the gun, and took aim. "Pap! Pap!" He fired two shots.

 

Men fell as the shots were fired. Gao Yang had killed two men instantly with two shots, each to the chest.

 

After Gao Yang's two rapid shots, he rolled to the ground and pulled the knife out of Lago's body in one swift motion. He hastily crawled to one side instantly as bullets flew towards where he was just earlier. Blades of grass flew up in the air. 

 

Gao Yang's precise aiming had shocked the enemy. Although they vigorously opened fire, they were too afraid to charge in. As for Gao Yang, even he was surprised by his accuracy. Who would have thought that even after many years without practice, his aim was still so accurate.

 

After crawling over ten meters, the gunshots ceased. Gao Yang didn't dare continue. He stopped and slowly lifted himself up to sneak a peek. The four leftover soldiers stealthily walked with their backs hunched as they slowly drew closer to him.

 

Gao Yang took a deep breath before quickly getting down to one knee again. "Pap! Pap!" Two more shots, and another man from their squad fell.

 

This time, the enemy was somewhat ready. With the limited range of the AK-47, Gao Yang had released two shots, but only took down one enemy.

 

Gao Yang didn't really have a plan from the start. His strategy only consisted of killing, taking their gun, and firing quickly. He still hoped for the enemy to let him go. He even offered to help them, up until they screamed to kill him—twice. That was when Gao Yang decided to make a move. He eventually succeeded beyond his expectations. But when he opened fire for the second time, Gao Yang done it all consciously with less promising results.

 

After taking the shot, Gao Yang dropped to the ground again before quickly getting back up. He pretended he didn't hear the "Doof! Doof!" sounds of bullets striking the ground beside him, and continued on with his head covered.

 

Once the gunshots had stopped, so did Gao Yang. He carefully lifted his head up to scan the area, but failed to find the enemy. The tall, dense blades of green grass provided excellent cover. As long as you stayed close to the ground, it would be difficult to be spotted.

 

Gao Yang let out a short sigh before he gradually crawled forward. Suddenly, he became conscious of his injuries: the intense pain in his right knee and his severely burnt left hand from holding the rifle's barrel. Gao Yang could only grit his teeth, and he carefully moved on.

The grassy field was dead silent. It was as if a battle of life or death had not occurred moments ago. Having crawled dozens of meters, Gao Yang stopped and scanned the area. Just then, he saw the forehead of a black man looking in his direction, but the man hadn't noticed Gao Yang.

 

There were seventy to eighty meters between them, and neither of them dared to move closer. This allowed Gao Yang to relax a little and finally get time to check how many bullets he had left.

Chapter 3: Escape

Gao Yang desperately covered the magazine with his hand to muffle the sound as he reloaded. Once the gun was reloaded, he couldn't help but let out an internal sigh.

 

Gao Yang only had two bullets left, one in his barrel and the other in his magazine. Although there were only three enemies, it was obvious that they still had a lot of ammo.

 

Gao Yang knew he had to find some way to escape. Even if he took one of them out with a bullet, the other guys would kill him. Gao Yang couldn't rely on his knife again nor did he know if the enemy had any backup. 

The only good news was that it was getting dark. Gao Yang estimated that there was only an hour left before sunset. If he could hold out until nightfall, he'd have a chance to escape.

 

After Gao Yang put the magazine back, he got up to examine his surroundings. There was no sign of the enemy, but this time Gao Yang didn't wait. Instead, he got to one knee to scan the perimeter while trying his best to conceal himself.

 

Gao Yang didn't have to wait long before a head slowly crept up from the grass. He looked around before hunching his back and stealthily ran forward a few steps. After just two or three seconds, he quickly hid in the grass again.

 

A few seconds passed before another man appeared a couple of meters away. After running a short distance, he also hid in the grass.

 

The enemy slowly began to intercept his path up ahead. The two men were situated forty to fifty meters away at most, which was a dangerous distance. Gao Yang felt that he could no longer let the enemy easily get any closer.

 

He held his breath, lifted his rifle, and aimed in the direction of the first man in hiding. Just then, the same man peered up again. Even though he was now thirty to forty meters away, he ran at lightning speed. Gao Yang pulled the trigger without hesitation. 

He specialized in shooting moving targets.

 

Gunshots sounded and death followed. Gao Yang was on his fifth bullet. He had killed four men earlier, and although he brought upon a shooting frenzy, the enemy didn't dare reveal themselves. Gao Yang, however, didn't feel threatened in the least by their blind shooting. Still on high alert, Gao Yang advanced slightly before stopping again. He examined the last two enemies' movements. His last attack seemed to have intimidated them as they didn't dare reveal themselves or attempt to ambush him. 

When Gao Yang confronted the two combatants directly, nobody dared to make the first move. In that moment, Gao Yang wasn't the only one scared for his life. The enemy didn't know that he only had one bullet left. While he feared that the two of them would charge at him together, the enemy feared that if they showed themselves, they'd be shot to death. As the saying goes, "When fighting a wolf with a flex stalk, both sides are afraid of the other."

*TL Note: Describing a standstill between two parties, one who is cautious, and one who is bluffing 

 

As time went by, the skies darkened and the chances of Gao Yang escaping grew slimmer. The two remaining enemies didn't move an inch. In that moment, Gao Yang had already started contemplating which route to take for his escape. 

A hundred meters to the east was a river, while his enemies stood in the northwest. Gao Yang only had two escape routes to choose from - head south and run, or first head south and then enter the river after breaking away from the battlefield.

 

Gao Yang planned to head south and escape by the river since he found it difficult to move with his injured right knee. It would be a lot easier for him to swim away.

 

Gao Yang decided to wait for the skies to completely darken before setting out. But just when he was about to go, Gao Yang realized that he'd made a grave error.

   

He was wearing his bright orange eye-catching life jacket, a necessary item if he were to escape by river as he needed it to stay afloat. He could swim, but with his injury and intense hunger, he'd die if he took off the jacket.   

Although the life jacket was really bright, during the day the thick grass acted as cover, so there wasn't a problem. But now that it was dark, Gao Yang was stunned to find out that the jacket glowed in the dark. It was bright enough that anyone far away could notice him. He wouldn't be able to slip away undetected if he got in the river. 

Gao Yang could neither laugh nor cry. Hastily, he pulled off his life jacket and tried to tear off the two illuminated strips, but soon realized that if he tore off the strips, air would leak from the jacket.

 

In that moment, Gao Yang heard some shuffling and knew he could not wait any longer. Regretfully, he left the life jacket, and started to slowly crawl south.

 

Gao Yang was patient enough to rapidly leg it, but continued to crawl. He knew that the enemy couldn't see him at that time. As long as he wasn't too loud, he would be alright.

 

Gao Yang crawled for quite a distance before he suddenly heard a burst of gunshots behind him. He assumed that the enemy had fired when they discovered his life jacket.

 

Knowing that the enemy had given up their pursuit, Gao Yang stepped up his pace. Suddenly, a thought came into his mind; perhaps he should come up with a plan to draw them away.

 

After some hesitation, Gao Yang turned around to crawl up the riverbank, stopping periodically to listen for any movements.

 

With just over twenty meters from the riverbank, Gao Yang stopped crawling since there was no more grass to act as cover. Gao Yang wanted to move in the water instead of sneaking around in the grass and risk getting caught.

 

What annoyed Gao Yang was that after crawling for such a long distance, he never encountered a single rock or found anything useful. After some thought, Gao Yang gently lowered his magazine, and then threw it in the river.

 

Because his final bullet was already in the gun's chamber, there was no need to carry an empty magazine.

 

The grassy field was dead silent as the previous battle scared off all the animals in the surrounding area. Once Gao Yang threw the magazine into the water, a clearly audible splash resounded in the air. 

 

It didn't matter where the magazine was now. This time, Gao Yang did not hesitate. He headed deep into the field, until he could no longer had the energy to crawl any further. Only then, when he was a sizable distance away, did he roll over onto his back to take a break. 

 

He was starving and he had no strength left in him. He calculated that he had at least crawled three to four hundred meters.

 

The situation was dire for Gao Yang as he desperately needed to recover his physical strength. With little choice left, Gao Yang took out the few pieces of chocolate he had remaining. He unwrapped the small package and took a few bites.

 

Finally, with some food in him, Gao Yang felt heaps better. The chocolate gave him enough energy to help him for awhile. He took a small break and felt some of his strength come back to him before setting off again. Gao Yang examined the perimeter behind him to his pitch-black surroundings. Unable to see anything, he decisively stood up and headed south.

 

Despite the pain in his right knee, he continued on at a slow pace. Gao Yang didn't dare to stop for a moment.

 

He didn't know how far he had travelled, but he knew that a long time had passed. After walking for five minutes, he would take a fifteen minute break or longer. He was thirsty, hungry, and extremely exhausted. If he hadn't been so determined to make it home alive, Gao Yang would have collapsed a long time ago.

 

The moon was already up. Thankfully, it wasn't a full moon and only weakly lit up the surroundings. Otherwise, Gao Yang would have been exposed if they had pursued him from behind.

  

Judging by the position of the moon, Gao Yang estimated that it was about two or three in the morning. Simply unable to continue on, he decided to finally stop.

 

He sat down against a giant tree. After distancing himself from the war zone, he was overcome by the many wild animal calls surrounding him. There were even some that sounded like they were very close by.

 

Although he couldn't distinguish between the different animal calls, Gao Yang knew that three ferocious African beasts moved at night: lions, leopards, and hyenas. The hyenas were especially active during the night. Gao Yang counted himself lucky for not meeting any wild beasts up until now, but who knows? Perhaps he had already crossed paths with them without knowing.

 

In actuality, the threat of wild beasts wasn't a big issue. What he feared most was the overwhelming amount of mosquitos and other flying insects. They not only stung like crazy; they also carried infectious diseases.

 

Fortunately, Gao Yang had taken the necessary travel injections prior to his trip to Africa. He could live with anything else missing from his first aid kit, except for mosquito repellent. That was an absolute necessity. 

 

After he sprayed the repellent, Gao Yang didn't care much about anything else. He pulled out his gun with the last remaining bullet and hugged it as he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 4: All for the Gun

Gao Yang thought he heard a strange laugh in his dreams—a somber kind of laugh that echoed around him.

 

Even half-asleep, Gao Yang knew the weird laughter was very close by, but he was far too tired to care. But when it stopped, Gao Yang felt his heart race and woke up abruptly.

 

Just like many others who had experienced it before him, Gao Yang felt a sudden jolt run through his body while he was in his deep slumber. Even though nothing had happened, he had been woken up. He opened his eyes and discovered four to five pairs of glistening green eyes staring right at him. There was a hyena standing right in front of him!

 

He stared blankly at first, thinking he was just having a nightmare. When he snapped out of it, he realized that he wasn't sleeping in his bed back home, but alone in the grassy fields of Africa. Standing in front of him were at least a dozen hyenas.

 

Smelling an intense foul odor, Gao Yang found himself face-to-face with a hyena. If the hyena opened its mouth, it could rip out his throat.

 

Although he was scared stiff, he pointed the gun to the hyena's head out of reflex, and pulled the trigger. With a 'bang!', the hyena instantly fell to the ground and frightened the surrounding hyenas as they scattered in every direction.

  

Gao Yang stood up flustered. His heart raced and he was breathing heavily. Eventually, his nerves gradually settled.

 

Gao Yang used his gun to prod the hyena's carcass. With a bullet between its eyes, it was clear that it was dead. Seeing that it could no longer attack him, Gao Yang sat back down.

 

Gao Yang knew that even if there were more beasts around, they would have been scared off by the sound of the gunshot. Thinking about how close he was to becoming hyena food, his heart raced like crazy.

 

Though unsure as to whether hyenas actually hunted humans, Gao Yang knew that they'd never pass up a corpse. They probably targeted him assuming he was dead, but even if he were alive, he wouldn't be able to fight them off since they were as strong as a lion altogether. All they had to do was take a few bites and he would become a real corpse. 

 

Gao Yang sat paralyzed beside the carcass as he hugged the AK-47 which had no ammo. Thinking back on the past two days, tears rolled down uncontrollably.

 

Gao Yang stroked the gun with his hands, causing a mixture of feelings to well up inside him.

 

The whole reason why he came to Africa was just to be able to use a real gun.

 

Gao Yang was born in the provincial capital of Jisheng and his parents ran a small factory. They weren't rich but his financial situation wasn't bad. His parents loved him and ever since he was young, his life had been easy.

 

When Gao Yang entered junior high, his father brought him to a shooting range. At the time, he didn't have as good a control with real guns and bullets. However, it was there at the shooting range where he first showed his true talents.

 

He shot five or six times at the hundred meter target with a semi-automatic rifle. Besides the first shot, every other shot hit the eighth and ninth ring. Experienced soldiers who had used guns for years couldn't get these results, let alone a child who had just gotten his hands on a gun.

 

Gao Yang's score left the staff dumbstruck. Coincidentally, the shooting range was Jisheng's main shooting grounds. Normally, they still accepted customers who weren't members of the club. Plus, they had staff who were experts in that field. After playing around for a while, Gao Yang caught the shooting coach's attention.

  

 

After seeing him shoot, the coach allowed him to try the two hundred meter target. Gao Yang didn't care how far away the target was; he aimed and shot as usual. All his shots were were close to the bull's-eye. When the coach saw this, he called Gao Yang a young talent and immediately tried to convince Gao Yang's father to allow Gao Yang to train under his wing.

 

After arguing with his family for over a month, and his parents discovered that sports schools also had cultural classes, and so they finally let him attend and practice shooting.

 

Other than just having the talent, Gao Yang was a hard worker once he became interested in something. After studying at the sports school for two years, he quickly became the youngest member in history to join Jisheng's shooting squad.

 

Gao Yang never participated in any of the competitions even after he entered the squad, as it was already a feat to have joined the capital's squad on skill alone. Also, it wasn't easy for him as a young shooter to participate on a global level. The country had so many talented shooters that it was impossible for him to shine.

 

It would also take two to three years of training to participate in competitions, something that Gao Yang did not have patience for and did not see a future in. For a long time, his parents had also been hoping for him to return home. And so at the age of sixteen, he went back to attending regular school.

 

After training for three years, Gao Yang's performance in culture class inevitably dropped as he was never the studious type. But Gao Yang discovered his second talent - studying foreign languages. While his classmates were scratching their heads about English, he found it incredibly easy. After three years of high school, he entered a third-rate university to study foreign languages.

 

Most people faced unemployment after graduation, but Gao Yang successfully found work at a trading company. His job allowed him to develop various skills, including his English speaking skills to the point where he was able to converse with foreigners without any problems. After graduating, he started his own trading company with his father's help.

 

Unfortunately, just when Gao Yang's business was about to take off, the entire trading industry suffered a major economic crisis. Gao Yang was only twenty-three when his company closed down. 

 

Gao Yang's trading company had run for over a year and earned over twenty million in profits. However, this was a small achievement in comparison to his peers. In addition, he used all the money to buy imitation guns and high quality knives, and he even went backpacking. In the end, he didn't save a single cent.

 

When the company closed, Gao Yang didn't actually feel stressed. On the second day after its closure, he enthusiastically participated in a Counter-Strike cosplay event.

 

While there were federal laws that restricted people from using real guns, Gao Yang managed to get his hands on a collection of imitation guns. He never turned to something as childish as laser tag since it wasn't realistic enough. 

 

Gao Yang cosplayed Counter-Strike by using BB guns. Of course, to people unfamiliar with the game, they thought of the weapons as part of the costume; but for shooters like Gao Yang, they called it the "war game". Even though it was a game, it was actually fairly accurate to reality.

 

Gao Yang had planned to use BB guns to cheer himself up. Unfortunately, he soon found out that although cosplaying Counter-Strike was legal, the use of imitation guns was not. The moment Gao Yang and group of friends held up their imitation guns, the police immediately arrested, detained, and fined them.

 

After staying at the police station for a few days, Gao Yang's father got him out. He was lucky not to be convicted for years.

 

The second day after he returned home from the police station, he saw an online advertisement about a private Ethiopian hunting ground. It would cost eight million eight thousand yuan and, with additional fees, it was possible to even hunt and kill a lion.

 

Gao Yang wasn't bloodthirsty, but he was curious about hunting as it was his dream to go to the plains of Africa and use real guns and knives. Rather than living in constant fear playing with imitation guns, Gao Yang wanted to go to Africa which offered him the real deal. 

 It's not easy to change a person's interests in a short period of time, particularly someone as impulsive as Gao Yang. He got his collection of imitation guns and acclaimed knives and sold them off. With the money he got and his savings, he had ten million yuan—just about enough to take him to Africa.

 

Even though ten million yuan was just the base fee, he could only hunt small animals. Honestly, he wasn't interested in hunting docile animals. He thought of this trip as an excursion that would allow him to use real guns and see Africa's landscape.

 

When he arrived at Ethiopia, he transferred to another flight that took him to the hunting grounds, otherwise known as—hell. Gao Yang, who had never taken a life, was plunged into this random battlefield, where he killed four people and a hyena.

 

During his training days, he had mostly practiced using pistols and rifles to shoot flying discs, thus he was used to shooting moving objects. To top it off, he would typically shoot twice in a row. 

 

Even though it had been many years since he last touched a real gun, let alone an assault rifle, he was able to naturally use his two shot skills with the shotgun. In fact, he actually performed well considering its difficulty.

 

Gao Yang was able to just pick up an AK-47 because of his years of training, imitation guns, and obsession with the military. Other than knowing where to buy firearms online, he learned about them and memorized their structures. He could dissemble any gun he touched, including something as basic as an AK-47.

 

Cosplaying in a Counter-Strike event once a week greatly contributed to his tactical skills. Getting hit by BB pellets was extremely painful.

 

Also, to make the Counter-Strike cosplay feel more realistic and look more professional, he learned quite a few combat hand signals online.

 

Gao Yang's skills weren't quite up to par to elite soldiers but they were infinitely much better than those wandering soldiers in the field who received no military training and clutched their guns.