Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 363
Why were the Pygmy tribe so short?
Several theories pointed to the lack of sunlight. The Ituri Rainforest was always dark because of its canopy. Its canopy was dense because of the survival competition between plants.
In the dictionary, the definition of survival competition was the struggle between living things to occupy limited resources, namely food or habitat. Humans were no exception. The plants’ competition for survival was more aggressive compared to that of animals. The Ituri Rainforest was rich in water and nutrients, which were essential for plant growth.
What they lacked was sunlight. While allelopathy competition was fierce, the competition for light was fiercer.
Whether it was trees or vines, all of them would stretch upwards to the sky, as far as they could, to get sunlight. While eucalyptuses grew up to 20 meters tall in Rwenzori, they grew up to over 40 meters tall in the Ituri Rainforest. The fig vines that were entwined around the eucalyptuses would also stretch upwards.
Ultimately, the branches and leaves would cover the sky and block out the sunlight. The amount of light reaching the Ituri Rainforest’s floor was less than the light of a Half Moon. The lack of sunlight prevented bodies from synthesizing vitamin D. The lack of vitamin D would hinder calcium absorption. It also meant that a person’s bones would be smaller.
It’s the same for other animals. There were dwarf hippos living in the Ituri Rainforest that weighed around 200 kilograms. Even leopards were a width smaller. Although that wasn’t the case for all animals, the truth was that the Ituri Rainforest was an unusual place that transformed the DNA of animals.
“Damn, why did Areva crawl into this place… to eat what? I dislike humans and this jungle,” Germaine complained, flipping through the operation team’s report.
It was a report sent by Colonel Monfran, who led the rescue team.
[Operation environment and execution report]
– I can’t see the end of these giant trees, even if I tilt my head back. The sky’s invisible because of the various vines entwined around these giant trees of about 150 feet tall. The forest is dark to the point that we have to light the lanterns. The leaves are moist as though a sprinkler had been turned on. Sunlight barely passes through the gaps between the trees. Its beam was as narrow as spears. There’s a dense fortress of thorn bushes and vines. We keep getting tears on our uniform because of the grass, which is as sharp as blades. It takes around 30 minutes to advance 10 yards.
– Unknown poisonous insects and deadly vipers keep attacking. Leeches fall from the sky like hailstones. One even fainted from anemia because 10 of them got into his clothes. Wasps the size of two fingers rush at us in swarms. One sting can lead to a coma, while two or three stings can cause death. Army ants and leeches immediately rush at you if you trip over a branch in the forest. The insects here are like demons.
– Black mambas are the scariest. They’re too fast for us to kill them. We were attacked by one that was over four meters long. When it raised its head, it reached the height of our shoulders. It was the devil itself. It killed five of us in a row by moving its head back and forth like a spring. We had to kill our member who was dying and in tears. Fortunately, another one who got bitten in the neck died in five minutes. Black mambas lurk everywhere. It is difficult to distinguish them especially when they can blend in with the undergrowth, branches, and rocks. Even if we do locate them in advance, we can’t escape their attacks. 12 members of our crew were killed by black mambas.
– The Pygmy tribe thinks we’re trespassers. Poison arrows and skewers fly at us in the dark. Even if it doesn’t cause immediate death, none of the medicines work. After a day, spots appeared all over the body, indicating the start of a slow death. By the second day, the limbs became paralyzed. The members, who were left behind because they couldn’t fight, became food for the poisonous insects and vipers.
– Leopards jump at us from trees. The leopards here are black. While it’s one width smaller than the ones in Southeast Asia, they’re more cautious and faster. Even if we kill them, once bitten, it’s too late. Seven of us died because of the leopards.
– From time to time, there is thick fog. New dangers keep surfacing with limited visibility. Some swamps are overlooked due to the leaves and weeds covering them. When someone falls into one, crocodiles and poisonous insects rush toward them in the dark.
– Although there’s plenty of water, we can’t get clean water. Parasites are crawling in rivers and swamps, and strange insects are living in them. There’s no point in using disinfectants. There are plenty of fruits, but we can’t tell what is edible and what isn’t. Even the fruits that those monkeys eat are poisonous. We managed to get one after fighting those wild monkeys. Our team member vomited blood and died after eating one. This place is hell…
That was already his third time reading through the report. He felt chills every time he read it. He could almost feel the devastation and fear that his subordinates felt. He recalled the nightmare that he went through in the Indochina forest. The Viet Cong buried in the forest weren’t humans but moles. No matter how many they killed, their heads kept popping out of the holes. The real opponent of that dirty battle was the forest.
Based on Monfran’s report, the Ituri Rainforest was more terrifying than the Indochina forest. The body became paralyzed once hit with the Pygmy tribe’s arrow. How would it feel to have 1,000,000s of ants rushing in and ripping his skin apart? Would he still be sane? Just the thought of it was horrible.
“I was foolish! I guess this is why the young ones in Korea say that once you age, you need to die,” Germaine lamented.
Ituri Rainforest was the devil’s forest where their elite anti-terrorist team—well-trained and equipped with excellent firepower—disappeared without a trace. The lives of precious young blood were sacrificed on some dirty land because of pride and stubbornness.
The intercom rang.
“What is it?”
“Sir, it’s a message from the DGSE. Those b*stards delivered another parcel. Two wrists this time too.”
A swear word popped out. Germaine’s face grew red. He could almost see his resignation letter flailing before his eyes.
“Come in and report.”
His secretary entered, carrying an official letter.
“30 minutes ago, manager Claude of the intelligence department received a message from the embassy in Kinshasa. It’s noted that those b*stards are losing patience.”
“Is there no other message?”
“They say the houngan will show his benevolence by giving us 10 more days. They will kill five after 10 days, and they will continue to kill one every day until their demands are met.”
“10? F***ing b*stards!”
Germaine groaned. His feet were on fire. No, his feet were already long on fire. That was a common strategy that kidnappers used. Killing one a day would stir up the media and put the government under immense pressure.
Germaine leaned back on his swivel chair and placed his legs on the table. The answer was Black Mamba. He decided to take his hands off the matter and hand over the baton to the DGSE.
“Damn, there’s no time. Even worrying is a luxury. Call Philip.”
The thought of a handover put his mind at ease.
His subordinate picked up the phone. The copper wire carried his grating voice over the Atlantic Ocean. Its destination was the Deuxieme Rep stationed in N’Djamena.
Black Mamba’s status was special. Although he was part of the Ministry of Defense, the minister couldn’t call him. Black Mamba was more of a freelancer and a secret member of the National Emergency Security Association. His call rights lied with major general Philip and Bonipas.
In the case of a covert operation, Bonipas would post an advertisement in South Korea’s Nam Yang newspaper. However, the official calling rights lied with the director of the Deuxieme Rep, major general Philip. It was an overt operation only when major general Philip contacted him through the embassy.
The difference between a covert and an overt operation wasn’t about whether it was made known to the public or not. If the operation revealed that it had the French government’s hand in it, it’s an overt operation, and if not, it’s a covert operation. Whether it’s an overt or a covert operation, Black Mamba’s identity remained hidden.
Philip, who became a general thanks to Black Mamba, still hung around the Deuxieme Rep at the French base in N’Djamena, Chad. He had good intuition for someone with strong political insights. He tried not to lose his connection with Black Mamba through the Deuxieme Rep.
The Ministry of Defense was troubled by the fact that a major general was sitting in a colonel’s seat. Eventually, they reformed the Deuxieme Rep with four more companies and placed the Mayotte contingents in the Comoro Islands under Philip’s authority. The Deuxieme Rep became a strange organization that was neither a brigade nor a regiment.
“Sir, minister Germaine wants to strengthen his friendship with you.”
Philip smiled jokingly at his playful lieutenant’s message.
“Why would he call me when he’s busy trying to save his own head? Wait, there is one thing he would call me about.”
As expected of major general Philip, who had good intuition.
His subordinate smiled as he handed him the phone.
It was a request for cooperation from the Ministry of Defense. Major general Philip’s mouth spread from ear to ear. Black Mamba was truly a cheat key. Even Germaine, who was known for his useless stubbornness, was calling him! Philip praised his own brain.
“Major general Philip, I’ll get straight to the point. I need to call L’ange de la Mort.”
“It’s been a while, minister. Did you notify Bonipas?”
“I’ll notify him myself.”
“You must be busy. You must have pondered long and hard before making this decision. Although there may be countless warriors wandering in bars, there’s only one Ange de la Mort on the battlefield.”
Philip’s sarcastic voice ran down the line and knocked on Germaine’s ears.
“I suppose. The difference is like dying from alcohol or a bullet. Do you still have regrets about the Raccoon plan?”
His ears received the voice signal, but his heart took offense. Germaine spat out thorny praise.
“Of course not. I’ve nothing against him since it was done in the name of France’s honor. I respect you, minister, for staying up day and night to resolve our issues.”
“Hm, it seems like your tongue got smoother ever since you became a general. I don’t have time. They sent an ultimatum that they’d get rid of the hostages next week. Still, can you move Ange de la Mort right now? I heard he’s attending school.”
“Don’t worry, sir. I’ll do whatever it takes to drag him to the Aubagne Headquarters within 24 hours, even if it means being kicked or screamed at,” Philip boasted.
He smiled in satisfaction. Black Mamba did say that he’d take one request from Philip, no questions asked.
“Oh! Thank you. You do understand me, major general Philip.”
Germaine sighed in relief. Once Black Mamba moved, operational rights would be handed over to the DGSE. Ituri was tenacious to the point that his teeth were worn out.
Philip lowered the phone and started complaining.
“F*** understanding, ha, this raccoon b*stard!”
Major general Philip hadn’t been able to shake off the grudges he harbored since the Raccoon plan. The damage done to his self-confidence from being excluded and made a scarecrow throughout the plan couldn’t be shaken off easily.
While he wasn’t in a position to welcome the failure of the operation, the retirement of some rude unlucky old b*stard was certainly welcomed. Germaine’s stubborn nose was as sweet as France’s Domaine de Bequignol.
Who am I? Where is this?
From a hospital bed, Jang opened her eyes. Her mind was blurry as though a fog had settled.
“Madam, can you see this?”
A nurse shook her fingers before Jang’s eyes. The fingers suddenly came into focus. Memories of yesterday started to surface. It was impossible to tell if it was a dream or a reality. The red eyes of a ghost hanging upside-down outside the living room’s window grew wide like wheels.
The ghost was wearing red clothes. Its face was white as though it was painted on, and its eyes were red as though blood had pooled. Blue hair shook behind its exposed canines. Jang, whose mind became unstable from the immense shock, reimagined Mu Ssang’s face as a goblin’s.
She was hallucinating, a characteristic symptom of Lewy dementia. The vision of patients with Lewy dementia was specifically vibrant, three-dimensional, and colorful. People filtered what they saw according to their own perception and adapted it into empirical concepts. If the spindle cells in the brain were abnormal, the phenomenon of perception distortion would become severe.
[How dare you wake me up from eternal sleep! I will curse you.]
Her head split like stones at her brother-in-law’s voice.
“Aaaaagh!” Jang screamed.
Her body was being torn apart by a ghost. The ghost ripped her flesh apart with its sharp canines and chewed on it. Red eyes spun before her. Jang went into a frenzy.
“Guardian, who’s Jang Pil Nyuh’s guardian!”
The nurse rushed out of the door. The nurse in charge of Jang was too young to consider the protocols. Jang jumped back into consciousness at the nurse’s scream.
The white ceiling and walls caught her attention. It was a large hospital room that was over 10 pyung. A solution was dripping from a Hartmann bottle hanging from a stainless steel pole. Only then did she recall the events from the night before.
Jang trembled, unknowingly. She felt as though a scary ghost would pop out of nowhere at any moment. Jang’s eyes carefully scanned the corners of the window and her room.
Bodhisattva Young Mae did tell her that a failed curse could return to the person who placed the curse. The ghost that should have been at the bottom of Nakdong River had appeared before her. The curse was a failure.
She closed her eyes tightly. The past years flowed in her mind like a river. Jang was a decisive woman who was brave enough to poison her husband. If she was an ordinary woman, she would have gone mad from the ghost’s appearance. Jang easily endured the shock. No matter how hard she struggled with her memories, she couldn’t recall if she had done anything wicked enough to be cursed by a ghost. One aspect of a psychopath was the lack of guilt and self-deception. She shook off the illusion playing before her eyes and came to her senses.
Damn, what did I do? What can a ghost do to a living person? I’m going to do what I need to do.
Jang shook her head and gritted her teeth. For someone who had a list of things to be done, she just sat there mindlessly.
 A biological phenomenon in which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms.
 A confectionery made from whole French walnuts coated in chocolate. It tastes rich and sweet.