Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 397
Why did the Commando Hubert unit die there? There was no battle. If there was a battle, the Pygmy tribe would have known. Unfortunately, First Sergeant Montpor’s 15 years of experience was useless in the Ituri Rainforest.
The great Ituri Rainforest had the highest density of trees among the many tropical rainforests in the Congo Basin. When one mentioned forests, they referred to primary forests. Trees such as mahogany, limbali, chik, and blackwood formed a canopy, and plants covered the ground. Primary forests had a simple vegetation structure. There were many trees at first glance, but humans moved around easily because the bushes and vines weren’t tangled.
If a primary forest was destroyed for some reason, a secondary forest was created. Conifer trees began to grow, and fast-growing shrubs, bamboos, and thorny vines multiplied in abundance, creating an impregnable barrier. The Ituri Rainforest was unique as it was a combination of primary and secondary forests. That was how a harsh environment for humans was created.
The remains of the Commando Hubert unit were found at an especially dangerous area in the Ituri Rainforest. There were various endemic diseases such as sleeping sickness, yellow fever, and dengue fever, and it was also swarming with crocodiles, hippos, leopards, venomous snakes, poisonous insects, and parasites. Among them was the most fearful creature, the silent assassin, Midge Ur, which transferred deadly parasites without a trace.
Although no one remembered, that was the very place where Viscount John Murray of England led 300 to death as the leader of the Congo exploration team in 1692. Based on records, seven large-scale exploration teams from European countries were wiped out in the Ituri Rainforest. Their deaths weren’t a result of predators or venomous snakes but endemic diseases and parasitic infections.
Although he didn’t know the exact reason why the Commando Hubert unit was wiped out there, he knew that it was probably due to the parasitic infection transferred by the Midge Ur.
He could almost see it. Those rebels or cult warriors familiar with the region could have lured the commando there as they had stronger firepower. That place was the Midge Ur’s habitat.
Like how he was attacked, the Midge Ur attacked the Commando Hubert unit too. The special unit infected by the larvae of mango bugs, a species of blowflies, must have suffered from dehydration.
The Ituri Rainforest had water everywhere. However, no safe water was available for consumption anywhere. Even if you consumed the dew on leaves, there was a possibility of being poisoned or infected with parasites. There was water everywhere in the Devil’s Forest, but an impossible situation occurred whereby people died from dehydration.
The thirsty soldiers drank the swamp water. Swamp candiru and leeches lived in swamps. There were also deadly amoebas that melted the brain. The candiru broke down organs, and the leeches sucked on blood. The Commando Hubert unit members, alongside first sergeant Montpor, must have died in pain without a chance to fire their guns.
The blowflies of two to three millimeters long were the ones that wiped out France’s elite anti-terrorism team. It was Ituri’s curse on those who tried to harm the earth’s virgin land.
Black Mamba’s expression darkened. Empty souls lingered around the entire place. They were protesting their injustice. Those poor souls lost their lives in vain, driven to death by an Oecophylla smaragdina’s greed. Although he was busy, he couldn’t just go along his way, leaving those souls in a state of unrest.
“Such poor souls. Soldiers who buried their bones in an unfamiliar place, your souls have scattered in the dark forest where there’s no sunlight or moonlight, and each soul’s vessel has lost its way. You remain here in despair and fear. It is the universe’s will for one to die after they are born and separate after they meet. There’s pain with attachment, and there’s nothing to turn back to. Poor souls, what is it that you can’t let go of?”
Samedi tapped the machine gun’s head with the machete’s handle to the rhythm of his chanting.
“The life you lived momentarily has ended. Don’t get hung up on the sliver of relations you had among all evil humans. Are you worried about your wife and children? You’ll forget your pain in a year, stop missing them in two years, and forget their faces in three years. There’s a way for the living and a way for the dead. The boundary between life and death is defined, so find your own teachings of the one who had thus gone and find peace in your souls. Surisuri masuri susuri sabaha!”
When Black Mamba finished chanting, Samedi scattered some of their food over the swamp. It was a simpler version of the saving grace ritual. The offering would serve as their last meal in hopes that they leave the world of the living in peace.
Big and small fishes gathered and bubbled away in the water. Of course, souls couldn’t pick up battle rations. It’s all for nothing. The ritual wasn’t carried out to console the dead but for the living to be at ease.
“Samedi, we can’t leave them be, can we?”
The Korean government turned a blind eye to the remains of South Korean soldiers buried in North Korea. He couldn’t ignore those soldiers’ remains after cursing out the South Korean government for doing so.
“The dead remain the same, but the living can die. We’ll lose time picking up those pieces of protein and calcium.”
Samedi was not familiar with the metaphysical psychology of humans. He stated facts without hesitation.
“I suppose the base camp will do something about it if we tell them the location. They’ll be happy since they gave up on recovering the remains.”
Samedi pulled out the satellite phone’s antenna.
“Mother bird, this is baby bird doyo.”
“Mother bird here. Baby bird doyo, you’re contacting us late.”
Look at this b*stard! He’s lost his fear.
Black Mamba felt uncomfortable. Instead of checking in on their current situation, that guy immediately complained about their late contact. Perhaps, the headquarters chided him. That was why he didn’t like those who sat behind desks and rolled their heads around. However, the timing was just nice since he was heart-stricken after finding the remains of Commando Hubert.
“Who are you?”
Black Mamba’s words immediately changed from an informant’s to an enraged customer’s.
“Team leader Holland, sir.”
“You b*stard. I don’t care if you’re Holland or All lounge. Go get Paul.”
“Special Military Advisor, you can’t-”
“B*stard, do you want me to stop the operation and turn back for your head?”
“Uh, no! Sir! I’ll get the captain on the line.”
Paul’s voice echoed from the phone immediately.
“Hey, friend. I’ve never felt so happy to hear an irritated voice. You can’t do it sane, can you? Should I send over a box of Sciacarello?”
There was a hint of concern in his joke. That was why it was best to have friends on the battlefield.
“You can’t do anything by air in Ituri. Just hearing it’s enough. I’ve just confirmed Commando Hubert’s Hamnet Montpor’s backpack, first class sergeant.”
“Woah, Hubert’s the unit sent in during the second Fist of Justice operation. Did you find their remains? Send me the coordinates.”
Black Mamba turned on the GPS and checked his coordinates.
“1-18-24.13 / 29-35-13.01, they’re in a swamp where it is difficult to estimate the surface area. Find a 35-meter tall Albazia. Many remains and objects surround the tree. The exploration environment is dangerous. You’ll need a competent team leader. Send Holland as the team leader.”
“Yes, sir, let me confirm. You want Holland as the recovery team leader, yes. I have your order, Special Military Advisor.”
Black Mamba forcibly suppressed the laughter that almost escaped. Paul planned that to f*** Holland over. It seemed like Paul didn’t like Holland that much either. Regardless of country, the intelligence agency’s head and the combat unit commander were usually at odds with one another.
“Captain Paul, you will be in charge of my communications, over.”
Black Mamba hung up without revealing his progress or location. That was a place where terror birds and Dinofelis appeared. Nothing good would come out of revealing his whereabouts.
It took two hours for him to escape the sticky swamp. He made the right decision by choosing Olonge and Kidamba as his guides. The two Pygmy hunters casually walked along a road invisible to their eyes, as though they had eyes someplace else. They avoided poisonous insects and predators easily, avoided swamps, and even found water and food. The food there was all kinds of caterpillars and fruits.
Olonge and Kidamba didn’t get tired at all. Black Mamba and Samedi weren’t tired either. The only human among them on the verge of death was Ulumbo. Although Kidamba was carrying Ulumbo’s backpack, Ulumbo didn’t have enough strength to run four kilometers per hour through the forest.
“Master, can’t we take at least 10 minutes of break?” Ulumbo, who was exhausted, whined.
“Brat, how are you ever going to marry with such poor stamina?” Samedi glared.
“Break! We ran for the past five hours. Ulumbo deserves a break.”
Upon Black Mamba’s permission, Ulumbo collapsed onto the ground.
“You idiot b*stard, stand up now!” Samedi shouted.
“Ah, right! I’m sorry, master!”
Ulumbo immediately jumped to his feet. Another reason why Ituri was called the Devil’s Forest was because of the poisonous insects, parasites, and viruses. No one knew what would happen if one sat on the ground. No one could lean on trees either. Someone had to find a rock and rest while standing or spray disinfectant over places.
“Ulumbo, Samedi’s just shouting out of concern for you. You need to make money to marry, right?” Black Mamba smiled as he handed the man a pouch of date palms.
From his experience, date palms were better than chocolates at replenishing energy.
“Uhum, thank you, great master,” Ulumbo said and started crying.
How could the Mahabharata be so humane! Ulumbo decided to throttle the fake spellcaster once he returned to his village.
“Ulumbo, find shelter from the rain.”
The air grew heavy. There was no answer to a downpour—accompanied by lightning—that came without warning. Ituri was a place where swamp and land were indistinguishable even without rain. It would be harder to move once the rain poured down.
The rainforests in the Congo Basin, including the Ituri Rainforest, were called Africa’s Hupa. The amount of water vapor it released annually per square kilometers was over 20,000,000 liters. It’s truly a massive amount.
The massive amount of water vapor released by the rainforests created its own climate. When water vapor condensed in a specific region, a localized downpour began. Ulumbo, who received orders, didn’t say a word as he called Olonge over.
“Olonge, huna yoku ocela eshwa eye.”
Olonge, who was ahead of them, smiled widely, revealing his white teeth. That was no surprise coming from the Mahabharata. He was about to say that it’s going to rain. Olonge immediately searched for a cave he used when hunting.
The forest grew bright before Black Mamba could finish talking. The lightning pierced through the canopy and struck the ground.
The lightning shook the forest.
A downpour began.
The forest went mad. Large trees shook, and trees that received water bombs screamed. Vines that hung like ropes started spraying water like a fire hose. It felt like Pangu of the legends shaking the Ituri Rainforest’s ki.
Ituri’s canopy was around 10 to 15 meters thick. The rainwater collected in the canopy started pouring down through gaps like a waterfall. It was similar to the structure in which the rainwater collected on the roof poured out through the gutter.
While it was a sight to see, it was scary for the people receiving said water bombs. The most important rule to keep during an outland operation was maintaining body temperature. A decrease in body temperature slowed down body functions, reducing the body’s reaction time and immunity.
Olonge and Kidamba ran like squirrels after being rushed by Black Mamba. Looking like wet rats, their group arrived before the cave 10 minutes later. A large hole with its gaping dark jaw spread out like a wall under a large cliff.
“Great master, this is a bat cave. They’re not vampire bats, though.”
Olonge walked in as though there was nothing wrong. Samedi grabbed Olonge’s shoulder and held him back.
“You idiot, do you want to be someone else’s s*** tomorrow?”
Samedi didn’t reply and turned to look at Black Mamba.
“Wakil, should I kill them?”
“Don’t kill recklessly.”
Samedi sensed a creature in the cave, but Black Mamba also sensed humans. Although his senses were limited by the downpour and lightning, he could feel the presence of at least four humans in the cave. Black Mamba tilted his head. The animal’s presence was overpowering, and the humans’ presence felt distant. Did they come to a truce before the great power of nature?
Why is he acting benevolent all of a sudden?
Samedi also tilted his head. His master mercilessly got rid of creatures that harmed humans. The order to not kill recklessly was vague.
“I guess I’ll kill it if it doesn’t back down.”
He didn’t want to kill an existence that crawled in to avoid the downpour, but he had no choice if it attacked. Samedi was about to step foot into the cave when something black shot out like a cannonball.
Samedi, who received a surprise attack, reflexively blocked it with his arm.
The large predator pressed down on his chest with its dagger-like claws and attacked his eyes with its beak. Samedi was done in by the monster’s flash-like attacks. He managed to avoid losing his eyes by tucking his head in, but a hole appeared on his forehead, and his combat uniform was in tatters.
“Good job, brat!” Black Mamba said sarcastically, clicking his tongue.
Samedi had a bad habit of overestimating his body’s defense power. Well, it was natural since he withstood teacher’s Psychokinesis. The monster that inflicted those injuries on Samedi’s body was the one that deserved praise.
The one that attacked Samedi without fear was a vulture with a beard hanging under its chin. The king of Africa’s eastern skies was a large bearded vulture. It weighed about eight kilograms, and it had a wingspan of over two meters. However, that one was a width wider.
“Kuuh, damn it!”
Samedi exploded. He grabbed the leg of the predator that was about to fly.
The animal went into a frenzy. It slapped Samedi with both wings and pressed down on his face with its dagger-like toes.