Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 374
The mood in the conference room wasn’t that great. Unlike Bonipas’ answer, Ange de la Mort’s arrival was slower than roasting a pheasant. Commander Lieutenant General Dimanche, who attended as an observer, disappeared like a fart seeping through hot pants. Passion was bound to die down with age.
“Director Bonipas, 30 minutes have already passed. Isn’t that more than enough time for a lost countryside boy to find his way?” Peron, whose face was turning red, asked.
“A soldier is escorting him. He will come in time.”
Bonipas was calm. It was annoying to judge someone who was beyond common sense. It was the greatest lesson he learned while dealing with Black Mamba.
“Petit ordure! Does he think the Aubagne headquarters is the Palace of Versailles?” Peron complained under his breath.
“Petit ordure” was an insulting term that Larkro and his advisors, who led the formation of Legion Etranger during the reign of Philippe I, used to refer to the foreign mercenaries. The term was a reference to the fact that they used trash to wipe out other trash. If Philip hadn’t gone to the bathroom, Peron would have been punched on the spot.
Hehe, he would be decapitated had Black Mamba heard. Bonipas gave a mocking smile.
“Advisor Peron, mind your words. Ange de la Mort can search all 3,600 rooms of the Palace of Versailles and find you in 30 minutes. Don’t forget that there is a reason why he’s called Ange de la Mort.” Commander Dimanche, who was returning from his break, glared.
“Is there a planned route to the operation’s location point?” The sly Germaine quickly changed the subject.
“A Hercules can land at Bukavu Airfield near Lake Kivu. A non-stop flight is possible as long as the Hercules is supplied with more fuel at Cairo camp. While he could transfer at the 13th Legion Etranger camp in Djibouti, the forest will be a problem no matter what route he takes. Once he enters the forest, he has no choice but to move on foot. As you know, general, the non-combat losses occurred while they were navigating through the forest.”
Bonipas didn’t mention his private jet. It was a secret, but to transport the medical team and the reinforcements, the Hercules had to be mobilized.
“Transporting equipment won’t be easy. Won’t we need tanks and vehicles to face those rebels?”
Ugh, he’s driving me crazy. Why don’t you suggest an AMX-30 and a 155-millimeter Moselle howitzer instead?
Bonipas pounded on his chest. The Ituri Rainforest was out of reach even for humans. What was he planning to do, dragging heavy weapons along? His dull combat sense must be the reason why he wasted precious blood in the forest three times.
“There is not enough time to send in any land reinforcements. It is 1,700 kilometers from Djibouti to Bukavu. There is a way to send supplies from Djibouti to Bukavu using the Hercules. The problem is that Ange de la Mort needs to be deployed there immediately since we’re running out of time. Even if we send heavy equipment and vehicles, they won’t be able to enter the forest or mountain range.”
Frustrated, Philip jumped in.
“Ange de la Mort can move by plane, and the support team can set off from the 13th Legion Etranger camp.”
Black Mamba didn’t show up, and the meeting continued indefinitely. There was a VIP parking lot in the rightmost corner of the headquarters building. A group of bored-looking drivers had gathered to smoke. Both humans and animals grew tense when hungry. While waiting for their noble masters, the drivers looked like they wanted to smash the shiny large sedans.
Black Mamba arrived before the entrance of the headquarters nearly an hour after he passed the front gate. The corners of Black Mamba’s mouth curled up as the soldier led him into the conference room. The faces of the old men sitting in the spinning chairs were greasy.
They look like nothing more than ants without their antennae.
Black Mamba’s eyes lit up. Mu Ssang from the bridge respected his elders, but Black Mamba of the battlefields didn’t like the Oecophylla smaragdinas very much.
Without their antennae, ants couldn’t keep up with their colony. While most ants had a lifespan of about three months, an isolated ant would die within a week no matter how good the surrounding environment was. The cause of death was the lack of communication with its colony.
Ants stored food then vomited it out to share with the rest. They made up for the lack of digestive enzymes by obtaining them from other ants. In other words, if an ant was isolated, it would die from indigestion. They looked exactly like that.
The conference room’s walls and ceiling rumbled. The old men, who were lounging in their chairs, flinched and corrected their posture. The oldest man in the furthest seat received the salute by raising his hand.
“Oh, Ddu-bai-buru-pa!” Philip smiled as though his dead brother had risen from the grave.
He rushed forward and hugged him.
“Ca fait longtemps!”
Black Mamba didn’t particularly enjoy the old man’s hug, but he willingly received it. The man was someone who tried his best for his comrades despite being a high-ranking boss.
“Bonipas, bonjour!” Black Mamba winked at Bonipas.
He didn’t even glance at Peron, whose face was etched with a frown like a hyena starving for four days.
Bonipas’ face warmed up like a spring breeze. Operational rights were granted, and Black Mamba finally arrived. The rest was nothing but minor tasks to be fulfilled.
“Comme ci comme ca!”
“Enchanté. Je suis Germaine.”
“Enchanté. Je m’appelle Ddu-bai-buru-pa.”
A round of greetings passed. Germaine scolded him with a straight face.
“Why are you so late?”
“I’m a mercenary. I went to check on the weapons. Weapons are a mercenary’s second life.”
“I understand.” Germaine nodded.
He also wore the military uniform for 30 years. Although it was rude, he couldn’t scold an agent heading into an operation for checking the weapons first.
“He is an Oriental,” Peron went around the bend and blurted out.
Ugh, that man!
Bonipas shook his head. “Oriental” didn’t simply refer to Asians. It was a pejorative that European imperialist countries used to call Asians when they invaded India and Asia.
White supremacy was deeply ingrained beyond one’s imagination. Even U.S. documents referred to Asian Americans as Orientals. The attendees went silent.
That idiot is shoving his face into a crocodile’s mouth. A bitter smile appeared on Bonipas’ face.
“Vieille grenouille ou grossier?” Black Mamba smiled and didn’t even bother to look at Peron.
Black Mamba’s hearing was better than a trained dog’s. He heard Peron calling him “petit ordure” when he was at the door. If Samedi wasn’t forced to wait outside, Advisor Peron’s head would have been cracked open. Peron’s face creased.
“How dare you, a mere major!” Advisor Peron yelled.
Black Mamba’s expression grew cold.
Oh, God, no!
Germaine wrapped his hands around his head. The advisor finally picked a fight. Peron was a pseudo civic activist. A b*stard who used to write columns on the Ministry of Defense’s website crawled into the military by climbing a rope and finally plucked a tiger’s nose hair. Germaine glared at Peron with a frown on his face. Black Mamba slowly grabbed a handful of almonds that he received as snacks.
“Mere is an offensive word that not even those in power should use against the weak. It’s especially not a word that the weak should use against the strong. If you do, you’ll have to pay the price.”
The sound of popping beans was heard before he could finish his sentence.
Something whooshed past his face. Surprised, Peron turned to look at the wall behind him. Embedded in the thick oak-paneled wall were countless almonds outlining the shape of his face. If the almonds missed by half an inch, there would already be holes in his face. When else would an advisor like Peron experience such a scene? His white face turned red.
“Wh… what kind of behavior is this?”
Peron’s voice trembled as he protested.
“Advisor Peron, you called Legion Etranger ‘petit ordure.’ If you consider soldiers who are the first to bleed for France as trash, what kind of filth are you?”
“Putain, Peron, how dare you!” Philip stood up and glared.
“Don’t frame me. I never said such a thing,” Peron said, claiming innocence.
“You’re a coward on top of a fool. Well, fine, take that up with Major General Philip. Besides mocking Legion Etranger’s soldiers, you even made racist remarks. You didn’t say ‘Oriental’ without knowing its meaning, right?”
Peron, who had nothing to say to defend himself, only grunted.
“Since you slept through your classes, I’ll teach you. A human’s appearance is the result of genetic evolution and adaptation to the climate and environment. Although surprised, humanity before modern times didn’t disparage or ostracize other people who looked different. Racism started when the European empire, which preceded the Industrial Revolution, invaded colonies to consume goods and raw materials. They created racist ideologies to rationalize inhumane and immoral actions. Do you know why I’m explaining this to you?”
“What do you actually want to say?”
Peron, whose frown deepened, shouted. He revealed his intentions to the young man, and he was even listening to a lecture. He was angry to the point that he forgot the fear he felt moments ago.
“It means you are a detestable human consumed by the concept of racism that has existed since a century ago. The Fist of Justice operation failed. France called me to save their reputation, and I need a competent operational advisor to pull off this mission.”
Black Mamba stopped talking and looked at Peron. Peron looked back at Black Mamba in confusion as though questioning the meaning behind his words.
“Using my authority as the head consultant of the Fist of Justice operation, I appoint you, Glish Peron, as the operation’s operational advisor.”
The entire conference room suddenly went quiet. Even the attendees’ breaths couldn’t be heard.
A suppressed laughter broke the silence. It was Bonipas. The advisor had been acting out the entire time and finally got what he deserved.
“What kind of f***ed-up story is this? What right do you have?” Peron’s face burned with anger.
“He’s beyond redemption. Director Bonipas, I want you to inform Advisor Peron of the authority delegated to the Special Military Advisor by the president.”
Bonipas took out his notebook as though he was prepared all along.
“According to Article Three, Section One of The Powers and Duties of the Special Military Advisor, the Special Military Advisor may mobilize the Combined Special Warfare Command and Legion Etranger only for operations approved by the president. He can recruit civilian officers from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior and officers below the rank of colonel as operational staff. A person who has been nominated by the Special Military Advisor cannot refuse.”
Bonipas concluded his monologue and smacked the notebook shut. At the sound, all of the attendees turned to look at Peron. Peron seemed to have lost his mind. His jaw was wide open, and his eyes were out of focus.
He’s lost it!
Bonipas looked at Peron with pitiful eyes. Not a single human made it out alive in one piece after offending Black Mamba. Still, that was a lenient punishment considering Black Mamba’s personality.
Damn, he isn’t my subordinate anymore but a shrine.
Philip couldn’t hide his surprise. He initially thought that the Special Military Advisor position was nothing but a title, but instead, it held more power than expected.
“Advisor Peron, let me teach you one more thing to show my gratitude. There is an ant species called Oecophylla smaragdina in Australia. The old Oecophylla smaragdina ants charge at the enemy’s front line when a fight breaks out. When the enemy invades, the Oecophylla smaragdina force themselves into the enemy’s line until the main force gets into combat formation, basically initiating suicide attacks. Old ants sacrifice themselves for the safety of their colony. The French expression ‘noblesse oblige’ was inspired by the old Oecophylla smaragdinas’ sacrifice.”
Black Mamba stopped talking and looked around. Philip and Bonipas, whose faces were turning red, quickly ducked their heads under the table to hold their laughter. Germaine and Commander Dimanche looked confused. It seemed like they were trying to recall whether the correlation between noblesse oblige and the Oecophylla smaragdinas was true.
“Advisor Peron, you’ve decided to join the front line despite knowing the dangers of the Devil’s Forest, Ituri Rainforest. I respect your patriotism and noble soul for representing noblesse oblige.”
“No. When did I? This doesn’t make sense!” Peron mumbled.
His voice seemed to have aged at least 10 years. Germaine picked up the interphone and called a soldier.
“Advisor Peron has volunteered to serve as a local aid for the Fist of Justice operation. Prepare personal weapons and commence vaccinations. There are many guinea worms and kanjiru in the operational area. Those parasites pierce through the skin and puncture people’s organs. You need to take note that he’s protected against parasites with the vaccination. There’s not much time. Escort him outside immediately.”
“No, no. This can’t be.”
Peron was struggling and kicking while being dragged outside by the soldier. Black Mamba stuck out his tongue. As expected, that Oecophylla smaragdina’s instant reaction was incredible.
“Now, it’s finally quiet. Both chickens and ducks get too loud with age.”
Black Mamba picked up the glass of water from the table and gulped it down.
Germaine and Philip flinched when he slammed the glass back down.
“Minister Germaine, thank you for choosing such a competent advisor for me.”
Germaine’s face creased devilishly. He was basically scolded by the young man before him, but he also had nothing to say in his defense.
“I’m sorry. Stubborn people are bound to appear in a huge organization. I’ll get straight to the point. Please preserve France’s pride and mine too.”
Black Mamba turned to look at Major General Philip, his boss—at least on paper. It was a gesture he made to save Philip’s face.
 Damn trash!
 “It’s been a while!”
 “How have you been?”
 “Nice to meet you. I’m Germaine.”
 An old frog or a naked barbarian?