Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 285
Black Mamba smiled, revealing his white teeth. His straight teeth sparkled under the sunlight. Bonipas’ eyes struggled against the brightness. The cold serpent’s heart flinched at the youth’s burning energy.
That wasn’t the sinister smile usually seen on him when he returned from missions. Instead, the smile revealed his confidence to crush all obstacles in his path and represented the pride he had behind his actions.
Bonipas’ heart grew warm. He was someone who placed his safety on the line to help hundreds of people escape, even though they were not related. He spent his money and time on a desolate land dedicated to lower-class people who were persecuted and starving.
Would I have done that if I had Black Mamba’s abilities?
Bonipas shook his head. He was too old to act out of passion. Rather, he’d grown weary. Not only him, but also no one in the world could act like Black Mamba.
If one had the heart, they didn’t have the ability. If one had the ability, they didn’t have the heart. Some had both the heart and ability but could not act. There was a saying that none remembered the time they were tadpoles. All humans thought others were satisfied as long as they themselves were satisfied. Black Mamba was an exception. The fact that he took pity on people who were tormented and starving was ridiculous since he had so much on his plate.
“Is he the benevolent Asura or Don Quixote consumed by passion? Whatever he wants, I hope he achieves it.”
Bonipas mumbled at the jet that was taking off loudly. He supposed it wasn’t that bad to have one Don Quixote in a world tainted with selfishness and greed.
In district four of Avenue Charles de Gaulle, 28 kilometers southwest of N’Djamena Airport, several bulldozers were pushing the land, and thousands of people with shovels on their shoulders were crawling all over the land like ants. It was President Hissène Habré’s first industrial project site now that his power had solidified.
A large signboard was situated where the roads and infrastructure were already completed.
“Wakil Commerce Company”
That was the company name written on the signboard that was raised high on the lump of steel frames. It was the name of the grains and textiles company that Ombuti had established. Ombuti was stubborn to the point that he even named the company “Wakil.”
The factory site surrounded by rhomboid wire mesh was large enough that it made the rows of warehouses look shabby in comparison. Ombuti had accomplished every single order that Black Mamba had said in passing. That included setting up a grains and textiles company, moving in as soon as an industrial complex was planned in N’Djamena, keeping the factory site as large as possible, and positioning the company by the site’s entrance.
Aside from the wide cargo road through the front security post of Wakil Commerce Company, there was a narrow road of white gravel. The signage “Wakil’s Road” was by the small path. It took five minutes to cross the path between the palm trees that provided shade on both sides before a cozy two-story building made of red bricks revealed itself.
The door to the redbrick building opened. A slender beauty in a white gown stepped onto Wakil’s Road. She was the doctor from the MSF whom Black Mamba had described as an ointment of compassion for his broken empathy, the angel of Liverpool as per Professor Giz, and the very lady whom Ombuti was trying to get his wakil to marry—Rudrey Edel.
Edel headed toward the front gate, following Wakil’s Road. The window on the second floor slid open.
“Miss Edel, are you going to the front gate again? I don’t know when wakil will arrive. I told you, I only received news that he’s coming!” Ombuti shouted.
She walked toward the entrance as soon as she woke up, and now, she’d walked the path, back and forth, at least four times. Even onlookers would feel suffocated.
“I know, Uncle. Still, I have a feeling he must be here now. The gate guards don’t know him, do they? He’ll feel sad if no one greets him when he returns home. I look like an idiot, don’t I?”
Edel turned around and smiled. Tears glistened in her large eyes. Ombuti felt like his heart was stuck in his throat. He couldn’t understand his master no matter how hard he tried.
Miss Edel was a lady who didn’t fall short in the areas of beauty, education, body, and mind. Weren’t youths his age supposed to be hot-blooded? How could he be so uncaring?
“No, not at all. It’s my master who’s ignorant. What’s this, after a year of no contact? He should have told us the time, at least.”
“He’s someone with amazing feats. You know what they say about heroes making their women sad. I feel like he’ll come around this time.”
Edel walked toward the gate and sang.
It’s been 357 times since Helios and Hypnos changed.
And your breath wets my heart today, just like yesterday.
Who are you to make my heart race with a single breath?
The moon rises, the sun rises, and the shadows grow longer.
But your shadow remains a pastel color in my dreams.
Who are you to make me hold your shadow in my arms alone?
Even flowers lose their scent when their petals fly with the wind.
But your scent lingers even after days and nights.
Who are you to me that I can’t erase your scent?
The dust rises, and the dew falls, my heart is warm, so why can’t you stay?
My longing has turned me lovesick, so why won’t you turn around?
Who are you to cause me so much ache if you can’t stay?
Why won’t you look for me when your scent lingers today, just like yesterday?
Edel’s song pricked Ombuti’s heart. He had listened to that song all year. It was driving him mad. Was the woman in his master’s heart an exceptional beauty in this universe or something? Ombuti couldn’t believe that a woman better than Edel existed.
“Ugh, I’m going mad, mad! Miss Edel’s going to wring herself dry.”
Ombuti clicked his tongue and closed the window.
By the time Edel showed up at the front gates of Wakil Commerce Company for the sixth time, a small and sleek jet landed in N’Djamena Airport. It was the eight-seater private jet Dassault Falcon that flew nonstop for five hours from Paris.
The snakehead’s engine roared as it left the airport. The snakehead crossed Rue Brosset road and passed the Chad station of Legion Etranger. Black Mamba stopped at a hill where the Shari River flowed under his feet.
Storks jumped around the sand and looked for food, while brave fishes jumped across the water’s shiny surface. Although the people around were ever-changing, the scenery of the Shari River remained the same.
He rolled his feet slightly and stood on a rock where he had accompanied Burimer to fish. That had been the place where Burimer had caught a one-meter perch. The memory of Burimer haughtily laughing remained vivid in his mind. He could see the faces of his comrades who had protected and guided a rookie and walked through the chaos with him. Although they were harsh, they were warmhearted people.
He could vividly remember them—Chartres who had died because of his own mistake, Burimer who had died trying to save Jang Shin, Mike who had committed suicide after acting out like an idiot, Moris’ arm that had fallen apart with the claymore’s trigger still in his grip, Mark whose head was blown apart by a sniper, and Miguel whose lower body was blown away. He’d sung a farewell prayer every time his comrade died, knocking his Dragunov’s barrel with his Kukri. Africa had changed his life.
“Dear friends, I’m planning to sow seeds in the place where you’ve scattered blood. The world may have forgotten you, but I haven’t. If anyone still remembers you, it means you’re not dead. Adios!”
He scattered a bunch of wildflowers across the river. Fish that mistook it as food gathered around. The flower petals that floated down the river disappeared as the water bubbled. Of course, struggle existed within a habitat, be it on land, in the river, or the sea. Animals or plants, they were all aggressive. As long as there were living beings, fights couldn’t be avoided. The living was bound to die. Besides the time of death, the cause of death mattered too.
The cities in N’Djamena had been redesigned by French military engineers during the French colonial period. The city center was well arranged in a circular shape, but the buildings and streets were messy. Like most African cities, only buildings from the colonial period in N’Djamena were maintained.
Like slums, most of the buildings that had been built after independence had reeds or Cordyline branches for walls and metal plates for roofs. That was because the locals who had lost their houses and wealth from the civil war fell into poverty, and the regional locals who couldn’t stand the famine had relocated to the cities.
The bike couldn’t speed up. The chaotic road was filled with cars, bikes, carts, and camels carrying loads on their backs. There was no traffic system, either. He could only sigh at the people who were fighting on the road despite the existing complications.
Suddenly, people started running. They jumped over obstacles as though they were in a hurdle race and kicked as though their lives were on the line. The shops lining the side of the road were flipped over, and curses were flung around. The people were heading in the direction of a truck with a water tank.
Hundreds of people turned aggressive, trying to fill their dirty plastic cans with water. The drought was never-ending, and the social infrastructures were a mess. He wondered if the country would ever function properly.
The reason why he visited the city was to buy flowers. He was planning on getting them a large flower bouquet to celebrate their business achievement. It would be too awkward if a business owner showed his face without bringing anything. He also wanted to give Edel some flowers since they hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
“Damn, why’s it so hard to find a flower shop?”
Black Mamba complained before stopping his snakehead by the road. The street signs in N’Djamena were written in both French and Arabic. Most of the store signs were written in French too.
It was not that he couldn’t read those signs. There really were no flower shops around. He’d searched the entire city of N’Djamena, which was surrounded by flying dust, but found nothing. It was hard to ask for directions, either. If he attempted to ask, people would run away hysterically. The same people who ran away would peek at him from behind buildings or fences.
When approached, they would rush into their homes. Even the children, who should be at the peak of their curiosity, looked from afar. If he waved, they would run away.
“Do I look like I have the plague? Maybe a military veteran?”
He looked down at his clothes. The DGSE’s Technical Design Division had designed clean-cut everyday wear highlighting the merits of military uniforms. Although it had a lot of pockets, it looked nowhere near a uniform. Still, they were scared.
“I guess it makes sense.”
A sigh escaped. The FROLINAT, who had occupied N’Djamena for some time, turned theft, rape, and arson into a norm in their daily lives. The locals had associated foreigners and military uniforms with fear and force. A foreigner in military uniform was someone to be feared.
Even the children didn’t approach. He recalled following the American Jeeps around in his youth with his friends. When the children came, the American soldiers would throw them chocolates or cereals. Both humans and animals grew tame before food. The American soldiers would laugh at the children who fought one another for the food on the ground.
There were funny b*stards too. Those b*stards would point at their pants while shouting, “C*ck, c*ck.” Once the children showed them their young c*cks, the b*stards would throw them sausages. To get those sausages, the children fought one another to see who would pull down their pants first.
In return, one of the b*stards had even opened the zipper of his pants to show off a dark stick. When the children screamed at its size, the American soldier threw chocolates in exchange for their reactions. It was the kind of joy one would feel from looking at monkeys performing tricks in a zoo. He hadn’t known since he was little, but he now knew that they were the lowest form of life from American soil.
He could clearly remember the dirty faces of those children and his friends, who used to chase the Americans around. He grew sad. Then again, he didn’t want to be rude like the American soldiers who had thrown him chocolates and chewing gums. Around other people, that wasn’t appropriate behavior.
Noon approached. The sun hung in the center of the sky without a single cloud by its side. That was promised in Africa. His underwear was soaking wet from his attempts at finding some flowers. The flies began to gather after detecting the scent of his sweat. They dug at any opportunity they had—his mouth, his nostrils, his eyes, his ears, and anywhere that had holes. He still didn’t like this damned land of Africa.
“Damn, don’t these b*stards propose?”
Black Mamba, who was mentally exhausted, gave up his search for flowers. Finding a congratulatory flower bouquet in N’Djamena was very unlikely anyway. The possession of flowers was proportionate to a citizen’s income and not about cultural differences. After all, flowers had no economic advantage since it was a representation of luxury.
Flowers didn’t get rid of hunger or brought in money. After some time, it only incurred extra garbage disposal fees. It had no other uses other than it being an unconventional healing method. Flowers were meant for those with a secure lifestyle.
Chad was the poorest country within the African continent. The Northern Army and Southern Army, Islam and Christianity, and the Kukuni faction and Habre faction—that was the country where all kinds of military groups were divided into fours and fives and fought every day. How could they turn to flowers when they have to worry about their lives that were on the line and food shortage?
“Disregarding the flowers, what should I do about the gifts?”
He was the owner, at least by title. He had to act accordingly and not give them anything worthless. A gift was a gift only when the receiver felt touched. As a member of the Tuareg tribe, what would Ombuti like? Black Mamba pulled at his hair. Ombuti was a comrade who had saved his life and a person who had become his family. He wanted to give an appropriate gift but couldn’t come up with any ideas.
There were countless tribes in Africa, each with their unique gifting customs. Some tribes would go mad when they were gifted money, and some tribes would start a war when they were gifted pants.