Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 405
On the 10th day of the Ituri Rainforest infiltration,
What Ulumbo said turned out to be true. There was no name for the vast land between Apwanza and Apadombe. It was just colored green on the map. That area where most skilled explorers had never set foot in was one of the roughest terrains with swamps and waterways intertwined, unlike the areas in the direction of Mambasa.
The deeper they traveled into Apadombe, the harsher Ituri became. Its vegetation changed first. Large trees such as mahogany, Sapele, moabi, and ocum covered with dark blue and green lichens and woody vines wrapped around those trees blocked the sunlight. The surfaces between the large trees were densely covered with thorny bushes and rough fern shrubs. It was hard to advance even a meter inside the forest without turning a lantern on.
The swamps covered with humus and fallen dried leaves were also a major obstacle because they were indistinguishable from dry land. The attacks of the boomslangs and black mambas, which were indistinguishable from branches, were also threatening. Wasps launched a blizzard attack as they buzzed out of stranglers, and poisonous moths the size of his palm spread poisonous dust everywhere. Ituri tried to replenish its nutrition by melting the foreigners in it. The forest’s entire ecosystem seemed to be in a frenzy to consume the sources of protein that entered its deepest areas willingly.
Olonge and Kidamba were no exception to threats even though they were forest people, and Ulumbo, who was said to visit the Ituri Rainforest frequently, was dragged into the swamp. Although Black Mamba and Samedi dealt with the predators and venomous snakes, they couldn’t do anything about the poisonous insects and parasites. Samedi’s jungle knife reeked of blood, and Black Mamba’s senses grew dull.
“Sir, we’re out of rations.”
Ulumbo patted the slim backpack with his palm. Ulumbo’s backpack had run out of C-rations. The 30 packs of rations in Samedi’s backpack were all there was. According to their GPS, Apadombe was still 136 kilometers away.
“Run faster if you don’t want to starve!” Samedi glared.
Ulumbo’s face creased. Ulumbo was the only one in the group who cared about the rations. Black Mamba and Samedi could survive by hunting polar bears and seals even if they were in the Arctic, in the middle of nowhere. Kidamba and Olonge didn’t mind eating caterpillars, army ants, white ants, bees, and even tiger tarantulas the size of their palm. Among inhumane people, only Ulumbo was pitiful. Ulumbo sped up, unwilling to be scolded any further at a single word of complaint.
“Great master, save me!”
Ulumbo, who had gone ahead, ran back screaming just as Black Mamba entered Dzanga Bai.
A large bull that was frothing at the mouth appeared behind Ulumbo, less than 10 meters away. Its iron-like hooves trampled on the bushes and branches as it charged.
It was a tragic comedy, the way a human was running away from a charging bull that was swinging its large horns from side to side. The running bulls of Spain’s festival of San Fermin would make one laugh, but Ituri didn’t give anyone the leisure to laugh.
“Huh, all kinds of things are causing trouble here. Where is Samedi?”
The Pygmies had an uncanny ability to remove themselves from danger. Olonge and Kidamba already went into hiding, but it was strange for Samedi not to appear. He didn’t mind the bull because he trusted Samedi. He didn’t expect that Ulumbo would drag it there himself. Their guide was truly a troublemaker.
It was said that boars were scary, but those were the words of people who never experienced a charging bull before. An excited bull charging was like a flood rushing out of a broken dam. He was almost trampled to death by a bull charging at a female cow in heat on a river island. The angry bull’s horns fractured the chest of his childhood friend, Jong Hwa. African cows could even kill lions. Ulumbo would turn into a rag if he ever got caught in its spear-like horns.
He took out the Dragunov that he’d left hanging on his backpack. It would be hard to pierce the bull’s thick skull with a nine-millimeter parabellum bullet. By the time he added the magazine to the Dragunov, the bull was already before his nose. Black Mamba, who got into shooting position, shouted.
“Oi, you idiot, handero!”
He couldn’t shoot because Ulumbo was in his line of sight, in front of the bull’s head. There was no way a man from Africa’s Bashi tribe would understand the Gyeongsang-do dialect that came out of his mouth in a rush.
“Roulez le côté!”
Ulumbo, who was chilled with fear and couldn’t understand French, continued to run straight. The bull with red eyes, which was three steps behind him, continued charging. The warm breath coming out of its nostrils reached Ulumbo’s neck.
He couldn’t. Not only was Ulumbo, who was sprinting, blocking his view, but the lush shrubs and tall weeds of Dzanga Bai also restricted his aim.
Ulumbo tripped forward. He sprained his ankle. He now had a clear line of sight, but Ulumbo was about to be trampled.
Black Mamba clicked his tongue. The guide was a useless idiot. In the end, he fired without getting into a proper shooting position. He fired a restraining shot instead of a shot that could kill.
A 7.62-millimeter bullet hit the center of its left horn with an energy of 4,700 joules. It was a dimensional sight sniping that only Black Mamba was capable of.
The center of the bull’s horn snapped and flew off.
The bull stumbled at the shock, and Black Mamba took his chance to kick off the ground.
Black Mamba’s fist landed right on the bull’s head. His fist bore through the bull’s skull until he was wrist deep.
The bull let out a cry and kneeled on its front knees. He was one step away from Ulumbo. He sighed in relief, but the situation wasn’t over.
Millions of tiny wings fluttered in the air. A swarm of angry killer bees appeared in the direction where the bull appeared. The hybrid of African and European bees was called killer bees, while African honey bees were always called killer bees. That was because they were more aggressive compared to European or Asian honey bees.
It followed 10 li when one fled and was tenacious enough to linger around the water’s surface for several hours after one jumped in. While it was less poisonous than a wasp, people still died when they collectively stung.
“Seriously, what the hell.”
He could almost imagine it. The angry killer bees attacked the bull after it provoked their beehive. The angry bull just happened to see Ulumbo wandering around and lashed out at him instead.
The Rakshasa stretched out from his backpack. There wasn’t a better weapon than the Rakshasa to handle small flying creatures.
A small whirlwind formed. The whirlwind soon turned into a tornado.
The killer bees that were sucked into the tornado fell like snow.
The killer bees outside of the tornado hurriedly fled. Others that were buzzing around the bull’s carcass also disappeared.
The tornado slowly died down. Black Mamba, who stored the Rakshasa back into his backpack, shook his head. If he didn’t have the Rakshasa, he would have had to hide under a tarp just like how he hid from the grasshoppers in the Sahel.
Olonge and Kidamba crawled out from under the bushes. They always reappeared like ghosts after the danger had passed. The two, who found the collapsed bull, communicated loudly with their hands and feet. Black Mamba frowned. Their instinct to avoid danger was commendable, but he couldn’t feel Samedi’s ki.
There was silence.
Surprised, both turned their heads.
“Samedi!” Black Mamba shouted.
No one could hide Samedi to the point that it would go unnoticed by him. He grew even more anxious.
“A-ool, wabella ik-sa pozi!”
Although he couldn’t understand, the tone sounded urgent. Black Mamba motioned him to lead the way. They passed Dzanga Bai before Kidamba stopped a few meters away from where the bull appeared. It was no different from land covered with leaves, but it was a swamp. Samedi’s backpack and machine gun were by the swamp’s side.
For the first time, Black Mamba felt his bloodlust rise because of the Pygmies. Those b*stards knew Samedi disappeared into the swamp but didn’t inform him of the urgent situation. They irresponsibly directed all of their attention to the dead bull. The more he learned about them, the more he couldn’t understand them.
The Rakshasa swept the ground.
All kinds of sounds were heard. The leaves and branches that were swept away by the Rakshasa flew, and the bushes and weeds were uprooted entirely. Even the arboreal tree was cut down.
Waste that scattered into the air was pushed away by a gust of wind.
A swamp that was several 100s of pyungs wide appeared in the empty space. Rather, it was a mudflat that had turned into soup. The heavy rain had pushed the surrounding soil, creating a swamp of death with leaves piled on the surface. It was the scariest trap to exist in the Ituri Rainforest.
While he didn’t know why Samedi was dragged into the swamp, it was an emergency. Although he was a former zombie, Samedi survived on land. 10 minutes had passed. He was unsure how long Samedi could endure it.
When he activated his resonance waves at full potential, the ground vibrated. His hair soared into the sky. His resonance waves covered the swamp. He felt like something was shattering his head. Although his control was remarkable, using it over a wide area was still difficult.
Resonance waves were similar to a bat’s ultrasound and a submarine’s navigation sound waves. His brain analyzed the reflected wavelength, revealing the shape and size of the object. It was basically a biological radar. 10 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters, and finally, something seemed different at 40 meters. It was a sturdy bedrock.
Damn. That wasn’t a swamp but a cenote. Cenotes—a deep puddle formed by the accumulation of groundwater in a doline of karst terrain—were commonly found in South America. Unfortunately, the cenote that Samedi was dragged into was a swamp of death filled with waste and dirt instead of clear groundwater due to the heavy rain.
Black Mamba stirred up the swamp as though he was looking for an eel with his resonance waves. Countless dead creatures in the swamp hindered his work. His body broke out in cold sweat because he felt anxious, and there wasn’t much progress.
He found something jumping off the bedrock like a grasshopper. No matter how strong he was, Samedi wouldn’t be able to escape the swamp that was 120 meters deep. He propelled himself up by three to four meters but sank back down due to the pressure. A monster was a monster. What kind of creature on Earth could resist the pressure of a swamp that was 120 meters deep?
It wasn’t the time to laugh, but laughter escaped out of him anyway. The relief he felt from knowing that Samedi was fine drew it out of him. He threw his backpack down and took off his clothes. Only a single pouch wrapped securely around his chest remained.
The emergency pouch, created after his experience of getting swept down by the dam water in Kaparja Valley, contained the bare necessities for survival and the Vajra. The pouch was made from aramid and carbon fibers. It was fireproof and resistant to knife tears.
Black Mamba tied the army rope to a large ocum tree that spread over the swamp and tied the other end to his waist. That wasn’t a parachute anchor line but a diving lifeline. Black Mamba dived into the swamp without hesitation once he was ready.
Thick water splashed up. Although he had several experiences digging underground with his resonance waves, 10 meters was his limit. He wasn’t a fish or a crocodile. Samedi was still fine after 20 minutes, but 15 minutes was his limit.
Black Mamba dug into the swamp just like a drill.
As expected, he couldn’t descend fast enough. The swamp was much more difficult to dig into than land. The strong resistance hindered his fall. The mental exhaustion he gained from searching the location of Samedi’s fall was also an obstacle. Once he reached 50 meters under, the swamp water turned into mud. His biological clock had already passed 10 minutes. His chest grew stuffy. Holding one’s breath in a swamp was much more challenging than in water.
Should he return or dive deeper? Black Mamba contemplated until a headache came around. His mind shouted at him to give up, but his heart refused. He wasn’t like his mother, who left her young son behind. He couldn’t leave Samedi to die in a swamp. He was his family. He could descend faster in the muddy water than in the swamp water too.
After a moment of consideration, Black Mamba increased the speed of his descent to the best of his abilities. The swamp and mud water placed an unimaginable amount of pressure on him. An average human wouldn’t be able to swim 120 meters underwater.
His chest was on the verge of exploding. His mind went blank. He had to live to save Samedi, but he was too greedy. His heartbeat slowed down. His consciousness began to fade.
I’ll be an Epidium fossil 1,000,000s of years from now. Hehehe! He laughed inwardly in resignation.
“Huh? What the heck?”
His consciousness returned. That meant oxygen was reaching his brain. His heart started pumping blood once more. The pain in his chest, which made him feel like he was about to explode, became bearable. Black Mamba was extremely confused for someone who knew his physical limitations in detail. He didn’t gain any new ability recently, either. His teacher also said that his physical abilities had reached the limit.
He released his dimensional sight. He could answer those questions later.
Samedi wasn’t moving. He had been trying to escape the 120-meter swamp for the past 10 or so minutes. Even Nio would have given up.
Samedi flinched at the slap.
He punched his forehead. Bubbles escaped out of Samedi’s mouth.
 A parasitic plant of the figs genus.
 Get out!
 “Roll to the side!”