Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 382
“Hate and aggression are survival instincts and proactive behaviors of all living things. All humans are creatures. The only thing that suppresses them is consciousness resulting from the development of our cerebral cortex. Looking at your physical features, you’re from the Maasai tribe. The Maasai tribe is brave enough to steal the meat hunted by a lion. Your hunting instinct is just slightly stronger than other humans. Don’t doubt yourself.”
Black Mamba alleviated Samedi’s anxiety by citing Hobbes’ theory of “The War of All Against All” as an example.
“Wakil, Samedi wants to live as a human. I get so scared whenever I want to eat raw flesh or drink blood.”
Samedi’s big eyes shook. Samedi’s fear was the same kind of fear he felt before knowing he was an Epidium. He suffered from an identity crisis since he was 11 years old. Humans were social creatures. One couldn’t relate to the fear of not feeling like a human unless they have experienced it.
Only humans with developed cerebral cortex suffered from a metaphysical identity crisis. Samedi was no doubt a human. Perhaps, his master deliberately suppressed Samedi’s dark past.
“Samedi, there isn’t a single cat that wonders if it is a cat. Your new life began the moment you followed me.”
Black Mamba patted his shoulder, which was as big as a rock. Samedi smiled, revealing his teeth. His master was always right.
The entire group stopped moving at Black Mamba’s warning. Samedi moved while holding his breath and jumped over the head of a mercenary, who was carrying the sitatunga.
Samedi’s hand swept through the mass of vines hanging overhead called uapaca guineensis.
Samedi’s hand shot out before the nose of the confused mercenary. A thin green snake was struggling in his grasp.
“Boomslang!” the mercenaries and agents chorused.
It was an existence that one must be very cautious of in the forests of northeast Africa. It was a venomous green snake called Boomslang.
The face of the mercenary, who had been leading, turned pale. If he’d taken another step, he would have come face-to-face with the vines. One of those vines was that snake. Cold sweats ran down his back.
The name “Boomslang” meant tree snake. While its appearance wasn’t much as it was on a smaller scale, its venom was more toxic than that of a cobra, and its color kept it well-hidden from sight. A grown man would die within 20 seconds of a Boomslang’s bite. The venomous snake that bit Cleopatra when she committed suicide was a Boomslang. It appeared as a beloved guest in mystery novels due to its toxic venom, and there were even records of assassinations using the Boomslang’s venom in ancient Egypt.
“Thank you!” The mercenary, whose face had turned a shade of yellow, bowed deeply.
“You should protect yourself,” Samedi politely advised.
A faint smile crept across Black Mamba’s face. Day by day, Samedi sounded more like him.
That guy looked very delicious. Samedi, who was about to put the Boomslang into his mouth, glanced at Black Mamba. He remembered his master’s words about how a new life had begun. His master didn’t eat raw snakes. He threw the venomous snake onto the grass.
Once dusk fell, nocturnal predators made their appearances. Leopards cried, crocodiles crawled out of swamps, and snakes with their large bodies shook on branches—the forest slowly turned into a hunting ground. Frightened, they all rushed toward the camp.
“Captain, this is a horrible place. I didn’t know that I would miss Djibouti’s desert this much.” Poty trembled, recalling the Boomslang.
He only volunteered because he detested the burning desert, but it seemed like he’d lose his life at this rate.
“Hehehe, that little incident got you afraid? Stop worrying. You won’t die at least.”
Paul was relaxed. Black Mamba was the best guard that anyone could ask for. No one could fool Black Mamba’s senses and attack, be it day or night.
On the second day, the support team picked up pace after replenishing themselves with a fresh, nutritious barbecue and sleep. Two hours later, the team met with an unexpected crisis while cooling down the engine during their break.
The wheels of the cars disappeared while they were smoking and taking care of their needs. Why did the intact wheels disappear? They had sunk into the ground. The cold glaciers flowing down from Rwenzori had seeped into the surface, forming a void. On the surface, it seemed normal, but it was muddy underneath. While the compacted ground could withstand the weight of men, it couldn’t hold the weight of vehicles. At that point, the wheels of the three vehicles weren’t visible at all.
“What the hell! What is this?” Kuach was hopping mad.
“What are you all doing! Reverse! Get the cars out now!” Paul shouted.
The mercenaries rushed into the cars hysterically, activated the reverse gear, and stepped on the accelerator.
The tires relentlessly spewed out dirt and rocks. Seven cars rushed out of the swamp while the wheels of the other three cars continued turning in vain.
“Ulumbo, do you have a death wish?” Paul shouted.
Ulumbo turned pale.
“Sir, this isn’t my fault! I think the Rwenzori glaciers must have melted due to climate change. The water that poured down from the mountain peaks must have created this swamp. Ugh, what do we do?”
Ulumbo went around in circles like an ant without its antennae. The mercenaries just stared at their sinking cars until the mud reached the bumpers. It continued to sink little by little.
“Sergeant, attach the wire ropes.”
All the mercenaries rushed forward, attached the wire ropes, and tried to tow them. However, the cars didn’t budge even when they stepped on the accelerator to the point that the engine almost exploded. In the midst of it all, a group of screaming monkeys appeared and threw fruits at them.
“God, I’m about to go mad, mad! Black, help,” Paul said as he pounded on his chest.
“Ha, I can’t tell whether this is a support team or a treasure that needs to be protected.” Black Mamba smiled bitterly.
“Samedi, lift the front bumpers for them.”
Samedi used his monstrous strength to pull out the two-ton large vehicles. The towing car relentlessly pulled the other cars until they were out of the mud. After the forest’s savage introduction, Paul and Kuach opened the map and fell into contemplation.
“Sir, the western regions of Rwenzori are swampy areas with tributaries of the Congo river interconnecting everywhere. It will be rough, but we can avoid it if we take the cliffs of Rwenzori.”
“I guess there is no other way unless we fly over. We should have prepared a helicopter in the first place. Those chicken-headed b*stards.” Paul was seething.
Although their vehicles could move along rugged terrain, they couldn’t cross through swamps. Still, he couldn’t blame others either since he initially thought that the vehicles would be enough.
Their new route to Rwenzori was rough. There were deep valleys less than a meter wide, and ceiling cliffs blocked their path out of nowhere. The 500 horsepower engine and specially-made tires did their jobs. The cars carefully drove up and down Rwenzori’s steep slopes and pulled through the dense forest by crushing the shrubs and bushes in their way.
Even Black Mamba had a difficult time distinguishing the cardinal points. Both desert and forest prevented one’s eyes from doing their job. There was no reference point in the desert, and the forest didn’t reveal anything hidden behind trees.
Their group arrived at Semliki River, which flowed into Lake Albert, around dinner time. Like madmen, they pushed through 200 kilometers for 14 hours. Their destination, Bunia, was finally around the corner. That place was close to the location where the first Fist of Justice team was annihilated.
Semliki River was narrow but had strong currents. Black Mamba looked down at the river that was barely flowing through the dense forest. When viewed from above, the narrow river covered by the canopy was hardly noticeable. He suddenly remembered Burimer, the fishing fanatic. Memories from when they tried to catch Nile fishes in the Shari River flashed across his mind.
“Black, are you thinking about Burimer?”
Black Mamba nodded silently.
“What do you think of fish for dinner?” Paul, who was hungry as always, instigated him.
“Paul, I think you should really go to the military council.”
“People who run their mouths and do nothing productive gather there.” Black Mamba grinned and pulled out a hunting knife from his ankle holder.
It was an excellent Gerber hunting knife gifted to him by Bellman.
It was a leaf-stop knife made of stainless steel with a blade length of 60 millimeters and a total length of 170 millimeters, including the sheath. The one-handed opening type was useful for small tasks.
He released the shuriken from his army rope and tied the rope to the hole on the Gerber knife’s end.
Ulumbo’s eyes followed Black Mamba, who was heading down to the river. Ulumbo was a curious and smart Bantu tribe teenager. He managed to learn French by working with the Doctors Without Borders organization for five years in Kazeze and became a local DGSE guide, thanks to a French doctor’s recommendation.
He was absolutely amazed by the Asian Special Military Advisor. His village’s spellcaster was nothing compared to that man. His body trembled with excitement, wondering what kind of magic trick the young Asian man would show next.
Semliki River had a high flow, just like most of the lakes in the East African Rift. The river crashed violently against the towering rocks, twisted like a dragon, and disappeared. Drops of water and foam scattered like mist.
“Uah!” Ulumbo shouted.
The Asian man jumped into the river. He would face immediate death if the currents swept him away.
“Be quiet. You’re going to interrupt our master.”
Surprised, Ulumbo clammed up. The black man before him right now was the presence called Vodun that the spellcaster often threatened the villagers with.
Black Mamba landed gently on a large rock in the middle of the river. The currents were incredibly violent from up close. The river crashed and rolled against the rock, causing big splashes and creating small whirlpools. He released his dimensional sight and assessed the water.
“Why are there so many fishes!”
It was basically half-water, half-fish. From small minnows the size of his palm to monstrous ones the size of his body, there were a lot. He could detect all of their movements. Burimer said that Africa had all the best fishing spots in the world, and it seemed like he was right.
Black Mamba stood still and stared into the water when his wrist suddenly flinched. The Gerber knife flashed and disappeared into the water. The rope got sucked into the whirlpool. That wasn’t the kind of romantic fishing where one waited for the fish to take the bait with their fishing rod by the side. It was purely hunting.
He felt a strong resistance on his rope. He released the rope slightly. Army ropes were 200 meters long. The fishes were strong. The entire length was released in an instant.
I hope it doesn’t snap.
He used his muscles and tugged at it hard.
A big fish jumped out of the water. It was bigger than a human being. The jaws of all the team members, who were witnessing the extraordinary fishing from the bank, dropped open. Bait setting, reeling, and hooking—all of that were unnecessary. It was barbaric fishing that only required pure strength.
“Mon dieu, c’est vrai?”
There were several exclamations. The overwhelming savagery of the barbarian, who caught a big fish on his own and was standing tall on a rock surrounded by foam in the middle of the river, made it seem like they were looking at a work of art.
The Gerber knife pierced the back of the fish’s gill and left through the opposite eye. The fish with the pierced head was already dead. Only its tail fin, where motor neurons were still intact, flinched now and then.
“Giant piranha! Giant piranha!” Ulumbo shouted at the top of his lungs.
“Giant piranha? What a horrible creature.”
Its body that reached four feet long was remarkable, but its sparse teeth were even more impressive. Dagger-like teeth the size of his pinky lined the fish’s mouth. It seemed like fishes weren’t the norm in Africa either. That b*stard would have hunted him down had he fallen into the river. The lakes that flowed in the land of barbarism were barbaric, and the fishes that lived inside were also barbaric.
Black Mamba threw the monster at Ulumbo.
Samedi grabbed the back of Ulumbo’s neck, moved him away, and effortlessly caught the fish with one hand.
“Captain, is the Special Military Advisor possibly Azrael? The person who’s known to be Chad’s nightmare?”
The rumor about Azrael destroying the FROLINAT’s northern army was widely known in the Djibouti Legion too. No average human would be able to pull off such a feat. First Lieutenant Kuach, who realized he was witnessing a legend, couldn’t hide his excitement.
Paul quickly stopped Kuach mid-sentence.
“Kuach, the advisor’s someone assigned as the special consultant of this operation by the government. Regardless of his status, if you don’t want to be dishonorably discharged, stop caring and don’t say a word. I don’t want to draw a line on my subordinate’s resume with my own hands, you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Kuach lowered his voice and looked around.
Who’d believe me anyway? That b*stard’s fist will land on my face if I ever ask for a signature.
Kuach glanced at the big black man with a regretful expression on his face. That man was also equally strong.
Black Mamba caught another big one.
“I’ve seen this one before.”
It looked like a tilapia, but it was bigger. The tilapia was 50 centimeters long and served steamed or grilled in France. In Korea, they were called “reverse sea bream,” and sashimi and sushi restaurants often sold them as sea breams. However, the guy in his hand was 150 centimeters long.
He caught another giant piranha and wrapped up fishing. One enjoyable aspect of fishing was the push-pull between the fisher and fish. Fishing out of pure strength wasn’t fishing but hunting. Since there was no need for any push-pull, he lost interest. That marked the end of his peace too. He would be making his way into Ituri, the most infamous forest on earth, tomorrow.
 A type of epiphyte.
 “What is it?”
 “My God, is this real?”
 “This is impossible!”
 “It’s art!”