Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 458
Dinofelis lowered its posture and began glaring intimidatingly. Its yellow eyes were like burning coals. It was displaying the typical signs of a predator about to attack its prey.
“Hey, you punk. Behave yourself, hear me?”
A palm resembling a large steel plate smacked the creature’s head.
One could act spoiled to its master, but doing that to the pack’s leader would only result in a severe ass-kicking.
Whimpering sounds were heard. Dinofelis tucked in its sharp canine teeth and began behaving itself straightaway.
It had recognized Mu Ssang as its master and parent. He did save its life, and used the gongjinpa (resonance wave) to cleanse its meridians and marrows for it to be reborn, after all.
As for Samdi, he was recognized as the pack leader in some way. It was all thanks to the severe beating Dinofelis received after trying to be aggressive with him.
“Whoa, that surprised me! Hey, this thing, it’s that monster, right? But those kukri-like fangs are gone.” Paul said, tilting his head.
When the creature was being loaded into the Hercules, even the mercenaries renowned for their toughness were visibly taken aback, shell-shocked.
Those fangs resembling kukri knives, amber-colored eyes gleaming with killing intent, muscles that rippled like flowing water, front legs that were even thicker than human thighs were connected to large, heavy-looking front paws…
Just by looking at this creature, you’d be overwhelmed by the strong stench of blood. Yet it has transformed so much in the last few days.
“But it hasn’t changed all that much from where I stand, though… Sure, it’s a little bit different from how it was previously, but not too stark of a difference, I suppose. Well, it’s just a leopard, right? Like, an Ituri leopard.”
Mu Ssang said something totally absurd. If a Dinofelis was a mere Ituri leopard, then a Siberian tiger must be a little house cat.
Unexpectedly, he ended up taking this Dinofelis under his wing. But that was just his nature. Before he realized it, Mu Ssang had rescued it as it was desperately fighting a terror-bird to death, effectively turning it into his pet in the process. But he did not have any specific reason for doing so, other than the fact that the creature reminded him of Blackie.
But now that he had it loaded onto the transport plane, the fellow mercenaries were reacting strangely. Mu Ssang began blaming his own inattentiveness for this. Dinofelis was a breed that evolved from the most fearsome ancient predators, Saber-toothed tigers.
This creature might be a pet to him, but to regular people, it was an even more terrifying predator than a Siberian tiger. On top of that, things could get rather complicated if the creature’s existence was revealed to the scientific world.
If its outer appearance was the problem, then well, there was a simple enough solution — plastic surgery. Mu Ssang was definitely not a surgeon, but he had Vajra with him.
Mid-flight, he proceeded to file down Dinofelis’s fangs with Vajra. He delicately handled the teeth jutting outside its maw and filed them down to fangs resembling a Siberian tiger’s. In the end, the length of the fangs went down from 250mm to 70mm. Thankfully, the fangs’ enamel layers were unexpectedly thick, meaning he did not need to worry about nerve fibers and blood vessels.
After finishing up the fang-cutting task, Mu Ssang began injecting the gongjinpa (resonance wave) into the creature. If he was to give this process a name, it would probably be something like a fake version of meridian cleansing.
The resonance wave began to roughly vibrate Dinofelis’s body on the molecular level. Soon afterwards, the creature’s appearance began transforming. This change was so prominent, it was visible to the naked eye.
Its fur, as hard and sharp as needles, fell out and was replaced by new fur that was even softer than the finest silk. Its head transformed into a shape that seemed like a mix between a Caucasian Ovcharka and a Siberian tiger, while its body now resembled that of a leopard.
And now, four days later… Hints of the original Dinofelis exterior were almost gone.
Even its aura had transformed after experiencing a total physical transformation and cleansing of its marrows and meridians. The killing intent it originally emitted had become subdued, matching that of a tiger instead. Overall, the feeling he gave off was like a mix between a jaguar and the aforementioned Caucasian Ovcharka.
Humanity has lived together with canine breeds for tens of thousands of years, evolving and improving the breed into all sorts of variants. No one would outright call you a liar even if you insisted that this creature was an Ovcharka mixed breed. Of course, it was hard to believe that there was an Ovcharka weighing over 200 kilograms in the wild, but still.
“Give me a freaking break! It was already bad enough dealing with a nagging mother-in-law but now a damn animal has shown up to scare the crap out of me too. Man, looks like I can’t joke around with my pals because of these two.”
Paul alternated his dumbfounded gaze between Samdi and Dinofelis.
Dinofelis had already transformed into a toy by now, as if its previous bone-chilling aura was all a lie. Samdi was busy poking his finger in the animal’s ribcage, pulling at the ears and even trying to rip the legs off — all in the name of testing Dinofelis’s endurance level.
The poor thing was whimpering like a helpless puppy. Its eyes that were previously gleaming with killing intent were now welling up with tears.
‘I can’t believe this. Is this really the same monster as before? The one busy shooting scary glares my way?’
Paul slowly shook his head.
Some said that birds of a feather flock together — sure enough, monsters were flocking around a monster. Paul got a nasty surprise when a black man with a physique that could rival the mythical Hercules showed up back then. But now, a 4 meter-long monster strong enough to steam-roll a Siberian tiger had joined them too.
At this rate, it would not be strange to see a Mesozoic-era dinosaur joining their ranks too.
“H-hey, Black Mamba? What is the name of… No wait, just what on earth is that thing?”
“It’s a Dinofelis, belonging to the species of the ancient predator, Smilodon.”
“Smilodon? No bloody wonder!”
Paul nodded in understanding. He didn’t know what a Dinofelis was, but did recognize the term Smilodon. As he thought, his eyes were not playing tricks on him.
“Now that you mention it, I haven’t named this guy yet. A name, is it ~” Mu Ssang mulled over his options carefully.
A name was very important. Back in the underworld, he perceived Adras as a panther, causing Blackie to turn into a black panther. The reason why it has not shown itself above ground for over a year might have something to do with its outer appearance. Well, it certainly could not roam the surface world, dominated by humanity, looking like a massive black panther after all.
It was truly unfortunate, but Mu Ssang was not quite the diligent type to give his all in coming up with a suitable name. “Eiii, I don’t care anymore. You will be Dino from now on. Dino!”
Paul and Bellman stared at each other. Their dazed expression showed how dumbfounded they were at that moment.
“Should I say how befitting of you, master?” Samdi muttered that out loud, but then again, he was the mayor of Simpleton Village, so there was that.
But Dino reacted differently from the popular consensus, and stood right up after acquiring its new name.
Its explosive howling caused the land to rumble.
“Oh my god!”
“Aaaahk?! What was that?!”
Girls playing by themselves down at the beach screamed in shock. It was only natural for anyone to get shocked by such a loud roar.
“Let me take them home first.” Paul said before going down to the beach himself.
As if it was trying to show off, Dino began strutting haughtily around the campground before stopping and standing tall right next to Mu Ssang. Its eyes overflowing with pride were now locked squarely on Samdi.
“Huh? Would you look at this punk!” Samdi began tutting unhappily.
A mere animal dared to glare at him with such uncouth eyes! But still, he could easily figure out Dino’s current state of mind now. He has also experienced an awakening akin to the heavens opening up when he earned his surname and name, after all. His old life with no past, no future, no meaning and no will flashed by like a lightning strike and transformed into a brand new world back then.
The difference between ‘merely living on’ and ‘living a meaningful life’ was like comparing two different realms. And Dino had been reborn the moment its master gave it a new name.
But now, it seemed like the little kitten was getting a bit too full of itself and forgot what’s what for a moment, even if there was no denying how preternaturally smart said kitten was.
“Hey, Dino? Why don’t we have a little chat later tonight? See, the thing is, beating up a cat at night is a lot of fun, you know. Hehehe!”
Dino’s tail gradually tucked between its hind legs. A wall of killing intent that it could not control overwhelmed the poor creature.
‘Urgh, I stepped on poo, didn’t I!’
That… Was the first impression Dino got after its mind had evolved.
The sun was dipping into the western horizon. Damp, refreshing wind blew in from the Gulf of Aden. They were the trade winds.
Mu Ssang recalled the contents of a geography textbook from his childhood that explained how northeastern winds blew north of the Equator due to the Coriolis Effect.
This head of his seemed to be too capable of storing sundry information that would have been fine to forget by now.
“Look here, friend. What is your reason for avoiding women like this? Hang on, you can’t be believing in the urban legend of some women having teeth down there, do you? Besides, what are you going to do about Edel?” Paul asked in a serious voice.
Black Mamba was still in his mid-twenties. In other words, he was in the prime of his life. He was not gay nor was he an eunuch — indeed, he was a perfectly normal man who enjoyed watching porn and magazines like Pen*house or Play*oy in his spare time.
All women, regardless of their age, could not take their eyes off Black Mamba once they ran into him. A clean face with not a speck of blemish, a well-proportioned physique that would have put most Renaissance-era statues to shame, gently flowing curly hair, and his charming eyes…
A hundred times out of hundred, women would fall head over heels in front of such a specimen that boasted an incomparable genetic superiority. Just a glance from Black Mamba alone would be enough for numerous women to entrust the girdle of their skirts to him.
According to Zhang Shin and Emil’s testimonies, Black Mamba also had no contact with women back when he was assigned to Corsica. Apparently, the greatest unsolved mystery within the Deuxieme Rep was which way Black Mamba’s taste lay.
Unsurprisingly, he had not even embraced the incarnation-of-angel-itself Edel yet. No way would he be sated with some common call girls in this case.
“No reason. It’s just that I have a woman I love.”
Paul and Bellman’s jaws dropped at that simple, straightforward reply. A dude claiming to love someone yet not mentioning anything about them in the last four years? This woman he was talking about could not have been Rudrey Edel, that’s for sure.
“It’s not Miss Edel, right?” Bellman asked that.
Mu Ssang simply nodded in silence. He was no longer sure whether they were in love or not, but since they had not parted ways yet, their relationship was obviously not over.
“Could it be that woman you were calling out to on that first day of wiping out the FROLINAT company?”
“But you haven’t seen her since then, right?”
“I haven’t called her either.”
Paul and Bellman cried out in unison.
“Majority of men will fool around even if their wives were scrutinising them! Yet, are you seriously telling us that you’re keeping your distance from Edel just because of some girl you said goodbye to four years ago?!”
The voices of Paul and Bellman grew louder.
“As much as women insist on their chastity, men also must protect theirs. Men and women are equals after all.” Mu Ssang replied.
“I’m telling you, you’re like a character that jumped out of some Shakespearean comedy.” Paul promptly gave up trying to convince Black Mamba.
This guy was saying he would remain pure as he also wished for his ‘woman’ to remain pure. Although he was probably saying the proper thing here, would the world really operate in the ‘right’ way like that?
You would not find another man spewing the same silly things as this guy. Indeed, Black Mamba had to be a new breed of men altogether. In this moment, it seemed like humanity’s genealogy tree, which claimed to be a single species all along, was about to be rewritten.
“Black. I think I figured out why you haven’t returned to Novatopia and are wasting your time like this. You are scared of seeing Miss Edel again. To put it another way, you like her. The reason why you’re obsessed about some woman from the past is your desire to prove how moral and upstanding you are.
“To put it bluntly, you’re caught up in the business of ethics and morality. To phrase it simply, it’s like a superior moral syndrome where you want to hold the moral high ground in the ‘relationship’ with that woman.” Bellman proceeded to criticize Mu Ssang with a sharp tone of voice.
“You might be right…”
Mu Ssang’s expression darkened.
His feelings that used to be so intense had become as flimsy as a piece of paper before he had a chance to notice it. Maybe it was as Bellman said. Not being able to let Hae Young go might be some kind of a psychological mechanism to reward himself, to satisfy his own selfish wants.
“Friend, you are a soldier. A soldier needs to be straightforward and simple-minded. That latter bit about being simple-minded could mean ignorance, but it could also mean that you shouldn’t overthink things.
“You have this tendency of running at full tilt without care during battles, but become way too sentimental after the fighting is over. Don’t forget that we’re soldiers. Don’t try to forcibly lump some meaning to your actions when you’re supposed to be an ignorant idiot. The military as a group sticks closest to the ideas of utilitarianism, know what I mean?”
“Utilitarianism, is it? You might be right. Indeed, a soldier needs to be vicious so that he can protect the country and its people. But who would compensate for my life filled with bloodshed? People I’ve killed number in the thousands. At this rate, I’ll soon reach ten thousand.”
“No one in the history of mankind would have reached that grim milestone. Whether they are warriors, assassins or snipers, no one has killed over a thousand people. But then again, I chose this fate so no one else is to blame. I should take responsibility for my actions.”
“What on earth are you talking about! When you die, you’ll definitely be sent to heaven. Valhalla is known to invite the souls of warriors who have fallen in battle. Those who lived a good life only to die in bed will go straight to Niflheim.
“I’ve already received the invitation to Valhalla, you see. Friend, you should kill many, love as much as you want, and sire as many children as you can. I’m getting excited from imagining what kind of offspring will pop out from your and Edel’s superior genes. Kekeke!” Paul began cackling.
“I’m sure it’ll work out somehow. I haven’t lived long, but at least I’ve figured out that time is the best solution for everything.”
“Friend, you certainly have killed many, but you also have saved just as many too. In such a case, you may never receive Odin’s invitation.”
“Sounds like I need to cozy up to Odin, then. If I want to go to heaven after wrecking some sh*t, being a pirate might be the best option I have. Should I become Drake of Aden Bay? Hahaha!” Mu Ssang also burst into a fit of chuckles.
This was why having friends was great. While they were chatting and joking around, the stuffy feeling was blown away by the ocean’s breezes.
Paul shook his head. “Even as a joke, you shouldn’t say that. If you really become Aden Bay’s pirate, the Middle East’s oil exports will be finished for good. Even before Allah personally kicks your butt, Uncle Sam will rain down a barrage of missiles on you first, know what I mean? Hahaha!”
Paul muttered an unfunny joke and laughed alone.
The pirate, Black Mamba! That didn’t sound so bad.
Currently, Novatopia was fully occupied with receiving the Kurdish people from Southwestern Asia, as well as Eritrea’s Tigrinya people.
Tigrinya made up almost 50% of Eritrea’s population, and most of them were Christians. For a very long time, Tigrinya was in conflict with the neighboring Muslims, and their darkest hour came with Mengistu Haile Mariam becoming the chairman of Ethiopia’s Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC) in 1977.
Mengistu’s socialist-military dictatorship designated Christianity as a social evil and mercilessly oppressed the Christians. Unable to endure his rule, the Tigrinya people had to ride on wooden boats that did not even have motors to flee from their own homeland.
But the Mediterranean was not a simple route that could be crossed with mere rickety wooden boats. Countless Eritreans, now maritime refugees, drowned in the thousands as a result.
Vallé Afwerki, now settled in Novatopia, stepped forward. He rescued the children of Eritrea from forced labor, and after getting permission from Aklan crew’s Ombuti, he guided the Tigrinya refugees to Novatopia.
Dubaiburupa was the prophet and the leader of the Kurds, Syria’s Orthodox Christians and Eritreans. If he made up his mind to do it, then conquering and taking over East Africa would not merely be a pipe dream. Of course, the odds of him doing something so unprofitable and fruitless like that would be zero.
Mu Ssang closely observed Novatopia’s transformation, but did not interfere with it. Ombuti, Hawk Orifice, Bopal Shernion and Vallé Afwerki were a hundred times better than he was when it came to the development of the autonomous region and the maintenance of the system.
Black Mamba’s unchanging motto was “It’ll work out somehow” and “Sit back and enjoy the ride”, after all.
“Paul, is there a reason for a regiment of Legion Etranger to be stationed in Djibouti? From what I heard, France will pay for the operational expenses while the land lease fee will be paid directly to Djibouti. Is that correct?”
“Take a look at those ships.”
Paul pointed at the ships floating in the distant ocean..