Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 295
Edel’s words were specific yet unbelievable at the same time. People were bound to see mirages after wandering around the desert for a long time. The Ennedi Plateau was a place set deep inside of Africa where human traces ceased to exist. According to the research findings of the DGSE, there were hyenas, gazelles, wadans, parrots, and lizards, but there could be chimpanzees or other variations of it.
She must have been really scared.
For a woman who was usually calm when faced with misunderstandings or threats, the situation had freaked her out. Black Mamba patted her back pitifully as she started hiccuping.
“Miss Edel’s speaking the truth. The locals who live in Ounianga Kébir said they once lived around the Serir lakes. However, they moved to Lake Yoa because the ghost started eating the villagers.”
When Black Mamba started looking iffy, Ombuti provided more evidence. No one would believe that such an incident had taken place, even his wakil.
“Did you estimate the number of locals around the lake?”
“I couldn’t narrow down the number since they were all scattered. However, the only village, Ounianga Kébir, had around 100 families. They rely on the lake to fish and live their days on a farm growing corn the size of a palm. They were initially scared of me, thinking that I was a ghost. They shivered in fear even while talking about it.”
“Huh, the town of African legends, I see. Should I believe this?”
“A devil definitely climbed out of Gehenna, wakil. If we hadn’t stopped it with our guns, we would have been attacked.”
“You shot it with a Glock?”
“I emptied an entire magazine. It kept following our Jeep, so I shot as much as I could. I must have landed three to four shots.”
“So, did it bleed?”
“I wasn’t in the right mind to check.”
He was skeptical. All of his weapons were with the DGSE, and all that he had was the secret pouch around his waist and a Glock. He didn’t know when the Rakshasa would be completed either.
He had to use his body to counter any unexpected situations. There was no reason to fear a ghost, but the consecutive appearances of strange creatures bothered him. Once something began, others were bound to follow. It was already the beginning of November. He had to return to Korea immediately after fixing up the Samaria farm and checking up on Novatopia. At that rate, he was going to miss his exam.
“Rudrey, you must have been scared. I was planning to go with you, but you wouldn’t want to go there again, right?” Black Mamba asked while looking at Edel with a teasing smile.
“Oh, you’re mean. Why would I be scared of a ghost when the leader of all monsters is next to me?”
Edel glared at him until the whites of her eyes could be seen and stuck her tongue out. He blanked out at the woman’s random adorableness despite her refined upbringing.
“Hmhm, that’s something I can verify. What’s the other reason why the locals aren’t around?”
“To the north lies the Sahara Desert, and to the south an empty plain. There’s no land for them to start farming or raise livestock. To the north-west of the lake, a nail’s amount of grass is spotted. The north of Ennedi Plateau is empty.”
“So Chad’s government must have given up on the area since it’s difficult for people to live there. Nothing’s bad for me then. How big is this lake?”
“It’s divided into three areas. The largest lake region, Yoa, has six large and small lakes. The largest one, Lake Yoa, is four square kilometers, while the rest are much smaller. Three kilometers south of Lake Yoa is Lake Katam of two square kilometers. 32 kilometers south of Lake Katam is the lake region, Ounianga Serir. This region’s lakes are spread out like a fan, for some strange reason. The largest lake is Lake Teli. There were crocodiles in Lake Teli. The surface area of the Serir lakes is estimated to be approximately eight square kilometers. I couldn’t measure its depth. It was very deep.”
“Are they all salt lakes?”
“No. The haunted Serir lakes are freshwater. There were lush weeds and white poplars around the lakes, which helps prevent evaporation. Lake Katam is similarly freshwater. There are three lakes available for drinking in Lake Yoa.”
“Ha, there’s no end to the mysteries of mother nature. 18 lakes full of water in the middle of the desert!”
18 bodies of lakes spread across the border of a plateau and a desert, freshwater even! This means that water was supplied from underground. While it was small, it probably wasn’t known because it didn’t form an oasis. He once heard that there was a moving lake called Lop Nur during the ancient Loulan kingdom of Taklamakan Desert. The place was as mysterious as the Lop Nur lake.
“I think the water in Ennedi Plateau is sourced from underground like Bahr el-Ghazal and appeared in Ounianga.”
Ombuti’s assumption seemed quite plausible. He recalled Ariba’s words about how he shouldn’t just look at water from the surface.
Are those b*stards testing me?
Black Mamba grew slightly suspicious. It was very likely that the DGSE already knew about the ongoings in Ounianga. Bonipas, being the sly man he was, might have gone through all kinds of farce before telling him about the lakes. It was as though he should be grateful.
The area of the Ennedi Plateau was 60,000 square kilometers, which was two-thirds the size of South Korea. Precipitation was around 200 to 400 millimeters during the rainy season and around 100 to 200 millimeters during the dry season. Although it varied greatly depending on the region, it was not a small amount of precipitation in the Sahara Desert.
The reason why grass didn’t grow was that rain immediately seeped into the crust due to the porous sandstone surface. When water continued to seep underground, there was a high possibility of it turning into a large reservoir. Based on his knowledge about the lakes’ sizes, he had no choice but to dig the ground and extract the water so that farming could commence.
“Will coffee farming be possible?”
“While there isn’t a problem with the altitude and temperature, there’s a problem with the water and shade.”
“The coffee tree is a plant that provides shade and grows well in subtropical climates. Regions within the 25° north-south latitude are called the coffee belts. The Ounianga region, which I’m considering, lies along the 23° north latitude. Despite the low precipitation, there are both wet and dry seasons, so it can be cultivated with proper irrigation. While the growth rate might be slower from the lack of rain, the coffee’s flavor will be richer. As long as shade and water are available, the altitude’s perfect for farming.”
“Water and shade…I think I might have an answer. I’ll solve that problem. Will cassava and corn farming be possible?”
“It’s dryland, but the soil’s not bad. There are very few places with bedrocks, and the crust is thick. With enough water, crops would grow well.”
Black Mamba liked the Ounianga region as though it had called out for him. Faya was a rainless city despite it being the largest city in northern Chad. Even so, there was enough grass, and people were farming. That was due to the large underground reservoir.
Dong-A Constructions started constructing a large waterway in Libya last year. It was a major construction project that aimed to raise the underground water of the reservoir in the Sahara Desert in which water would be supplied to the cities and agricultural fields along the Mediterranean coast through a four-meter diameter pipe.
Compared to Libya’s waterway construction project, Ounianga was like a bird’s feet. There were plenty of underground construction companies in Korea. To extract water from underground and create a vast grassland in the empty Ennedi Plateau? That would form a green island, like a mirage in the Sahara Desert, a hub station that would lead people out toward the red sea from north and central of Africa. South Korea would gain 30 percent more land in Africa. And to think, people were fighting over small pieces of land!
Born a man, he believed he should do at least that much. Just thinking about it made his heart swell.
“Ok. I’m going to confirm after I survey the area, but for now, I’ve decided on Ounianga as my land. I’ll have 25,000 square kilometers of land with Ounianga at the center.”
“Ohh, it’s a good decision, wakil.”
“Yay, Dubai!” Ombuti and Edel cheered loudly.
“I’m going to name the land ‘Novatopia.’ I’ll appoint Immoharen Al Aman Ombuti to be in charge of Novatopia’s construction and finance.”
A prominent resonance wave shook the office. That was the Angel of Death, Black Mamba, and the cheerful child on the bridge, Mu Ssang, announcing the founding of the neo-liberalism autonomous region that would later be known as Black Culture.
“Novatopia!” Ombuti echoed briefly.
His mind wandered, and his heart fluttered for a moment. It had been 1,000 years since the Amazid roamed Africa without their own land, but now, there was a place for his tribe to stay. No, wakil’s land was finally decided. Tears streamed down his wrinkled cheeks.
“Thank you, God.”
“Ombuti, I need to use the phone,” Black Mamba interrupted Ombuti, who seemed to have started praying.
Once Ombuti started praying, he would have to wait 10 minutes for him to finish. The difficult international phone call was established. He punched in the secret code and connected to Ariba.
“Ariba, I need you to send over a survey team and geologist.”
“Advisor, I just got into bed with my wife after taking a shower. Can’t we talk tomorrow?”
“Yeah? Let’s talk face-to-face then.”
“Nimi Jotto, I don’t want to work late, but I’d rather give up my wife than see your face. When do I need to send them over?”
“Send them as soon as possible. There are others I need you to send over immediately.”
“What is it now?”
“Arm six people among the immigrants, Jamal, Mohammad, Ahmad, Ibrahim, Aishe, and Bassel, and send them over to N’Djamena by eight o’clock in the morning tomorrow on a jet.”
“Agh, what the f*** are you doing! It’s 10:00 p.m. right now!”
Ariba protested immediately. French people hated working late hours.
“You should work for your check like a proper civil official in times like this,” Black Mamba said his piece and ended the call.
Eight o’clock in the morning tomorrow meant he had 10 hours left. Ariba protested, but Black Mamba pretended that he didn’t hear it. The person who had to work his feet off was Ariba, not him.
Once the location of the autonomous region was decided, a detailed conversation took place. Edel had to move back and forth several times to deliver coffee.
“The first problem is water. The lake is too small to support a large farming area.”
“We don’t have to use lake water for farming. We can preserve the lake as a recreational area. The lakes of Ounianga would make a beautiful tourist destination spot. After we lay down an airway and open the roads, people who’re tired from modern society will flood in like a tide.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea. The lakes of Ounianga are stunning. Once we build a resort and sell it at a high price, and plan tour programs across the Ennedi Plateau and desert rallies, there will be more construction funds.” Edel clapped her hands.
“I can see water veins 250 meters underground. There’s one more friend, no, a creature that can see such things better than I do. I’m going to drill a large pipe and create a web of waterways in Novatopia.”
“Bismillah, you’re amazing, wakil. I forgot you have the ability to locate underground water.”
Ombuti imagined a green plateau with streams of flowing clear water. A grassy land spread across like carpets, thick trees, endless farms of cassava and coffee, and herds of cows and sheep that munched on grass. Tears suddenly streamed down his face. It was the kind of utopia that he wouldn’t have even dreamed about had he not met his master.
“Firstly, we must fix the roads. Chad’s greatest problem is the roads. While there’s enough land to improve on, they’re held back due to the lack of roads. It’s also a common problem across Africa. Without roads, it’s hard to sell surplus crops. Farmers don’t have a way to buy farming equipment and fertilizers, while produced materials are pushed around by the circle of corruption and disappearing elsewhere. People gather around a specific region, and the cycle of weakening self-production methods due to strenuous farming laws continues. We need to fix the roads for Novatopia to advance.”
“I get it. You’re saying that in the Sahel, the distribution of materials is the cause of famine instead of the food shortage. Then, we should plan out the roads first.”
“Of course. With just the roads alone, farmers can accumulate wealth by selling their crops. They can buy farming equipment and fertilizers to farm on other lands.”
“Waterways, green desert, region, roads, power, fertilizers, and defense systems…What a headache!”
Black Mamba wrapped his hands around his head. Building a country was obviously not easy. Just the slight thought of the pressing problems gave him a headache. He didn’t have the confidence to come up with an intricate social system, nor did he want to grow attached to it. As Ombuti said, all he had to do was give orders and prepare the investing money.
“Ombuti, there’s no need to rush. We can slowly take in people who’re lost while advancing the infrastructure. People who grew in devastating environments will be satisfied with freedom alone. There are more than enough skilled people in Korea. I’ll aid with Korean manpower and skills. I’m not going to give free lunches to the locals of Novatopia. Ombuti, you have a lot to do.”
“Of course, wakil. Freedom turns people lazy.”
“Desertification is progressing in the Sahel. What about Novatopia?”
“There’s a problem with the sand that is carried over by the winds from the Sahara. We need to form a line of windbreak trees in the northwest. Even the lakes are being swallowed by the sand. I’ll try to find a tree with plenty of leaves that grow well on sand. The composition for grassland won’t be easy either. It’ll be hard for the grass to grow if the soil drifts away.”
Black Mamba had worked on a construction site in Korea’s border. They would lay concrete grids on a slope to prevent the soil from drifting away before planting the trees.
“That won’t be a difficult problem as long as there are enough people. We can create a grid using wood and spread beans and herb seeds. Once the grassland is completed, we can stop it from drifting away, and the nutrients will remain in one place.”
“Oh, what a great idea. Once the formation of the grassland is complete, trees will grow, and their roots will maintain the soil in a virtuous cycle.”
“There should also be electricity. The beginning of all developments revolves around electricity.”
Black Mamba showed strong interest in the construction of Novatopia. Ombuti waited for an opportunity to mention the Samaria farm. Just like his master, Ombuti held long-lasting grudges.