Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 379
“F***, it’s ridiculously huge.”
Black Mamba shook his head after looking at the map. Congo had 11 provinces. The north-eastern region of Bukavu and the provinces alone were six times larger than the size of Korea.
He found Mobutu pathetic for neglecting the vast east and shoving the country’s capital into the west end of the country. Now wasn’t the time to be complaining about someone else. It wasn’t “The world is vast, and we have so much to do,” but it was “The land is vast, and there isn’t enough information.”
“Barney, get me all the geologic maps, topographic maps, photo maps, and relief maps.”
Barney also referred to pickpockets in Korean. Black Mamba called the military police and all of the DGSE employees “Barney.” He missed the Ruman plan in which he infiltrated via an airdrop. If he’s dropped into the forest, he wouldn’t be able to distinguish the cardinal points. To not lose his way, he would have to memorize the terrain to check against the GPS.
He’d be Sha Wujing if he felt at ease in such a situation. It was a jungle operation he had never experienced before. It was the most complex hostage rescue plan and not some elimination plan either. Rescue plans were 100 times more critical. If the hostage died, he would have to bear the burden of being torn apart by the hyena-like press in addition to the failed operation.
“Damn it, the year before last, I had to eat sand in the desert and barren land, last year, I wandered underground, and this year, I’m about to host a pygmy interview.”
Sighs were let out, and complaints increased. Moreover, he was annoyed by the fact that he was dragged there without a chance to wrap up his affairs in Korea. He couldn’t memorize the map since his mind was all over the place.
“Damn it, earning money is hard!” Black Mamba shouted unknowingly.
“Qu’est-ce qu’il a?”
Surprised, Guido jumped to his feet. Black Mamba waved his hand as though it was nothing.
“Special Military Advisor, have some coffee. This is Alata mocha from Ethiopia. You’ll feel better.”
Another agent offered him a cigarette with a strong smell.
“Special Military Advisor, you should try and light one. It’s the Cohiba that Castro smoked.”
“Huh, what an amazing service to offer cigarettes during a flight. Thanks.”
“A cigarette is nothing compared to your mental stability, Special Military Advisor!” the informants said, pouring out excessive kindness and flattery.
These b*stards are treating me like I’m already dead. B*stards, I can read your minds.
Black Mamba clicked his tongue at the DGSE informants’ excessive kindness. Well, he was as good as dead to them. The reason for their kindness was that they wanted to do good while he was still alive and that they also feared being dragged into the Ituri Rainforest.
The support team wasn’t involved in the operation. They would set up camp in Irumu and Bunia to transport vehicles and carry out rear support missions. They were basically dead if his mood changed drastically, and he decided to drag them all along.
Well, it’s a good thing that I don’t have to use my visa card and listen to bad jokes while waiting for my passport and vaccine cards to process at the gates, right?
He comforted himself with ridiculous reasons.
The aircraft started to drop in altitude. The dark land beneath his feet approached quickly. Lake Tanganyika appeared like a long strip in the middle of a basket. It was an African Great Lake that he learned in school through geography and world history.
Black Mamba checked the route once more. He had to go through 770 kilometers of the forest’s rugged terrain from Bukavu to Bunia using the eastern route. He wondered whether it was possible to use his bike at all. The western route filled with countless rivers and swamps was lower in elevation. The rescue teams gave up on that specific route.
There was nothing romantic about the rough journey either. He must prepare to receive the welcome of many: the worst of humankind who delivered human wrists, cultists who ran around like ghosts, leopards, crocodiles, flies, mosquitoes, leeches, wasps, and candelas.
Pain rushed into his ears as though poked with a hot needle. The inner ear pain, which resulted from a difference in air pressure during take-off and landing, persisted. He pumped it out, breathing it out until his cheeks puffed up. It was something that Chartres taught him while air-landing at Chinto mountain. Funnily enough, Samedi was also pumping out air while frowning.
The concepts of airports and airfields were different. Airports required all kinds of auxiliary facilities such as control towers, service buildings, departure halls, arrival halls, cargo holding rooms, boarding halls, and stands. On the other hand, airfields only required runways and aprons.
Bukavu airfield, at least, went beyond the concept of an airfield. It had a watchtower similar to a control tower, a storage station, and a runway equipped with guard lights.
The Hercules slowed down quickly by raising its slats and flaps. As it began to slow down, its fuselage shook. Black Mamba poked his head out and looked outside. It was a green world. Green was spread out endlessly. The airfield was the only one that was not green, like a cigarette burn on wood. Now, he feared the green color that he used to miss so much in Chad.
The airfield was quieter than Korea’s countryside bus stops. How many locals would fly around in Africa? Most of the visitors were tourists or businessmen. A plane and helicopter were seen on the runway, and guards in blue uniforms wandered around in groups. It was the typical airfield in Africa.
Ugh, damn it!
Blood drained from Black Mamba’s face. His vision was too perfect. He could clearly see the bumpy and cracked asphalt runway. He could vividly imagine the plane sliding off the runway and crashing its nose into the side.
However, it was a false premonition.
He didn’t know whether it was God’s hand or the pilot, but the Hercules completed its landing with ease.
Black Mamba trembled as soon as he stepped on the plane trap. The high humidity made it difficult to breathe. Even before entering the Ituri Rainforest, moist and hot air greeted him. The Sahara’s dry and hot air burned one’s lungs. Eastern Zaire’s hot and humid air pressed against his lungs. Body temperature increased more with humidity. The heat that seemed to bound his body rushed in.
The humidity of the forests of East Africa reached 95 percent because the trees released large amounts of moisture into the air through their stomata. A single old limbali tree transpired up to 500 kilograms of water in a day.
“Special Military Advisor, you’re very popular. A bunch of guests are here to welcome you,” Guido said, pointing to the cars lined outside the airfield.
“Your company’s serpent took care of it.”
A smile rose on Black Mamba’s face. The person to jump out of the first car was Captain Paul serving in the 13th Legion Etranger Regiment.
“Ola! Black, I missed you the most after my wife,” Paul said as he rushed over and hugged him.
“It’s nice to see you again. The Caucasus turned into a Negro, I see. Africa is really amazing.”
Paul’s skin darkened because his face lacked moisture, and there was an increase in melanin pigments. Even his greying hair turned fuzzy. It was hard to distinguish him from the locals.
“Djibouti is the hottest place on earth with the most sunlight. I’m turning dark thanks to you.”
“You better get promoted to a major and return to Calvi.”
“Hehe, a promotion is obvious now that I’ve met you.”
Paul joked around as though the hostage problem was resolved.
“Damn, Djibouti’s sun even modifies DNA, I see. I’m sad to see that you’ve turned into someone who considers a friend a stepping stone to success.”
“Hehehe, I should suck up as much as I can when my friend’s doing well, shouldn’t I? I got a call from Emil. I heard you got yourself an amazing lackey?”
Paul glanced at Samedi, who was standing behind Black Mamba. Samedi took a step forward and extended his pot-like hand to him.
“Nice to meet you, Paul. I’m Samedi. If you’re rude to wakil, I’ll scold you even if you’re a friend.”
“What? Hahaha! What a guy! You’re right. Ddu-bai-buru-pa’s my friend and my boss. Protect him well.”
Paul happily grabbed Samedi’s hand and shook it.
“Are you planning to bring him alone?”
“Mm, dragging soldiers into a forest where visibility is limited only creates scarecrows. You too. I’m not a babysitter who takes care of snotty kids.”
“If someone else had said that, I would have turned them inside out myself, but I should listen since it’s coming from you. I’ve already received orders from three places to follow your instructions unconditionally. Old men have been screaming into my ears since dawn.”
“Hehe, I can guess who they are. Commander Dimanche, Director Bonipas, and Major General Spash from the airborne brigade, probably. With age, energy moved from the d*** to the mouth. Try to understand, Paul, you’re young. I’ll include your name in my report, so don’t even think about following me into Ituri. You haven’t forgotten the lesson you learned in the Sahel, right?”
Paul’s face creased. “Sahel’s lesson” were painful words. He lost his subordinates and put his team in danger because of his stubbornness.
“Alright. However, I worry whether you can drag that guy through the rugged terrain,” Paul complained, pointing to their vehicle.
“What? The French military operating civilian vehicles, what a surprise.”
“I yelled at Major General Philip to give me a high-mobility vehicle. Those guys are prototypes produced by Renault and haven’t even passed the driving test yet. If you didn’t come, they would probably be released 20 to 30 years from now.”
“It’s better than a Toyota pickup with steel plates. Where’s the guide?”
“Enchanté. Je suis Ulumbo.”
When Paul shouted, a young man in his 30s from the Bantu tribe ran over and shoved his nose into Black Mamba’s face. Surprised, Black Mamba quickly stepped back.
“Damn, you rude b*stard!”
Samedi grabbed the back of Ulumbo’s neck and lifted him.
“Wh… what do you think you’re doing?” Ulumbo protested, hanging by his neck.
“Where are you shoving your dirty face? I’ll beat you up if you’re rude to master.”
“Don’t be rude. I’m an Intelli who attended university in Paris. I was just trying to greet him politely.”
“He doesn’t need a polite greeting. I don’t care whether you’re a guide or some bookworm. Stop acting like you’re all that and guide properly.” Samedi growled and glared.
Ulumbo, who tried to act cool before the clueless Asian-in-charge, was upset. He never dreamed that he would get picked up by an extremely strong black man.
“He’s a bragger.” Black Mamba smiled.
Sahel guide Ombuti and Syrian guide Zaitun were people with a lot of thoughts in their heads. That guy named Ulumbo had the strong temperaments of a fraudster.
Lake Kivu was created by the East African Rift. It was a large lake with a length of 90 kilometers from north to south and a width of 48 kilometers from east to west. Bukavu was a city located at the southern end of Lake Kivu. To get to Bunia, one had to take the North route three road along the edge of Lake Kivu.
10 or so cars fiercely drove up north. The expression “fiercely” didn’t refer to the car’s speed. It actually referred to the emotions felt by the car drivers and passengers.
The road infrastructure in the mountainous regions of eastern Zaire was more messed up than those in Chad. The government couldn’t build roads on rough terrain due to poor finances and low technology. North route three was also an unpaved road built during the Belgian colonial era.
There were grades to unpaved roads too. Unpaved roads in Africa weren’t roads made of gravel like the new roads in Korea, but just dirt roads. Road management? It didn’t exist. Puddles and floods were expected, and roads were often cut off. To be precise, those weren’t roads but long and narrow empty lots that existed in the forest.
Black Mamba realized the purpose of the ash bag in their trunk. The mercenaries shoved the ash bag to the other bank when the vehicle encountered a puddle that was difficult to cross. Once the vehicle had crossed safely, they immediately collected the ash bag from the other side and stored it. They had to go around it if the diameter of the puddle was greater than the length of the ash bag. There was no way for them to speed up.
The car stopped. That was already the 13th time. Black Mamba sighed. A large tree was blocking their way this time. It was a limbali tree of one meter in diameter and 30 meters in height. They couldn’t even go around it as both sides of the road were cliffsides. The mercenaries’ eyes grew somber.
“Kuach, can you figure this out?”
Captain Paul turned to look at his first lieutenant.
“No problem! What are you doing? Get rid of it.”
Several mercenaries rushed at the tree with sapper axes mounted on the fender of the car. Some even joined in with machetes.
The mercenaries took turns to ax down the tree, but it was nothing but a waste of time.
Not only did they have to cut down the trunk to move the giant tree, but they also had to cut down the branches that were as thick as arms. No matter how the mercenaries swung the machetes and axes, there was no progress.
“Wakil, should I help?” Samedi said, turning to look at Black Mamba in frustration.
“No. You shall not move unless I give you the orders to do so.”
Nothing good would come from the mercenaries witnessing Samedi’s strength. Black Mamba and Samedi had no choice but to wait for the path to clear.
“Mm, what’s this noise?” Black Mamba’s ears twitched.
It was the sound of countless wings flapping, which shook the atmosphere.
“Paul, bring the guys in right now!”
“Damn it. It’s too late.”
A black cloud rushed out from the root of the tree. The cloud immediately flew over to the mercenaries who were axing.
The shirtless mercenaries who had been axing went into a frenzy. They all covered their heads and scattered like spiderlings. The wasps gathered were the General Hornets of Africa, also known as ōsuzumebachi by the Japanese, Wang Zha Bong by the Chinese, and General Hornets by the Americans.
The wasp that was the size of two fingers wasn’t just any wasp. If it got caught in a spider web, it would eat the spider and tear its way out of the spider web to escape. That’s how strong it was. It was the strongest insect that could tear apart a grasshopper’s front legs and head to eat. With a stab of its stinger, a person with allergies would die. If it rushed at a person with its mouth, the skin would fall off.
 It’s Jjabari in Korean.
 “What’s wrong?”
 Controlled wings that are attached to the front of the main wings.