Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 472
A begrudged monologue was followed by the sound of gritted teeth. There was no way the gorilla could talk to itself as it gritted its teeth. The monologue was spoken by the middle-aged black man embraced in the silverback’s bosom. It was a Damballah zealot, Houngan Kamuge, who had escaped through teleportation.
It was ironic that Kamuge, who had fled Black Mamba’s wrath, was heading for the Ennedi Plateau. It was said that no matter how intelligent a human is, they cannot see through God’s plan.
Kamuge took out a glossy white object that he kept in his clothes. It was the white skeleton of a child’s hand devoid of any flesh or tendons. It was a mennang, a voodoo ritual tool for contacting spirits. For him to see through Gori’s eyes, he had to access Gori’s brain through the mennang.
A gorilla’s eyesight was not that great but Gori, possessed by a Rousseloufe, was no ordinary gorilla. It was not anything like remote viewing but he could make out a running rabbit 10 kilometers ahead. Like how street lights lit up the dark of the night, his field of vision expanded without limits. One kilometer, two kilometers, three kilometers, four kilometers ahead, he could see the elongated valley and a wadi (river) that ran clear water.
“There’s water! Let’s go, Gori.”
Kamuge struck the silverback’s temple with the mennang. The relationship between a Rousseloufe and a shaman was complicated. The Rousseloufe considered the shaman as its slave, but as long as the shaman provided sufficient human blood, it complied with their bidding.
The shaman should never hit the Rousseloufe unless he wanted to become a torn-up dead body. Gori, who was routinely hit by the shaman, was not a Rousseloufe but merely a strong gorilla.
The two gorillas ran like the wind. Their feet left deep footprints in the red soil. Their strides were a dozen meters each. They were still invigorated and full of energy despite running ceaselessly for the past seven days. Gori was a capable specimen but lacked intelligence. He was simply an upgraded version of Ouma.
“Shit! May Damballah devour you!”
Kamuge swore mindlessly. The person who was sworn at was Petro, who messed up the Rousseloufe. Kamuge’s frown persisted.
When Black Mamba beat up the Rousseloufe in the overwater bungalow in the jungle of Ituri, Kamuge, surprised, had sliced open the host’s stomach and extracted the uterus. A seed of Rousseloufe needed to mature for a full six months in the uterus of a suitable human. When extracted prematurely, the awoken seed becomes a mere monster without divinity. The Kingdom of Bahomay fell because the royal shaman did not handle the restoration of Rousseloufes appropriately.
When the uterus was extracted, the Rousseloufe that was still maturing became ruined. But he could not risk letting the enemy take a fully mature Rousseloufe. His adversary was Petro who was too strong. He could not give him the fruit of his work.
Kamuge, with teary eyes, ran off while holding the immature Rousseloufe. The deformed Rousseloufe started to struggle. He risked being its prey. Kamuge, who did not have any host available, became anxious. To run into a human in the jungle of Ituri was as unlikely as running into one in the Sahara.
Fortunately, when he was about to leave the jungle, a curious gorilla couple appeared. Kamuge immediately put the Rousseloufe in the body of the male gorilla. He was counting on the research that revealed that gorillas and humans shared a common ancestor 5,000,000 years ago.
The transplant was simple. He tranquilized the gorilla and placed the bottle containing the Rousseloufe under its nose. The Rousseloufe infiltrated the body on its own and took over the brain. He never used a gorilla as a host before, but the transplant was successful.
The Rousseloufe was unstable so he was taking a certain risk. And it manifested. The gorilla’s body became strong, but it did not become intelligent. It understood simple commands but he could not communicate with it. A Rousseloufe, normally capable of developing a country, turned into a docile, strong gorilla.
It was such a waste but there was no way to separate the host and Rousseloufe. He reluctantly named them “Gori” and “Rila.” Still fearing that he was chased by Black Mamba, he focused on running away with the help of docile Gori and Rila.
It was not exactly clear where the Ennedi Plateau began but CIA’s geologists estimated its area to be 60,000 square kilometers. The Plateau had some drastic changes in the composition of the strata. About 600,000,000 years ago, it had a dry Savanna climate which eroded the granite bedrock. Then it became a marshland similar to the regions near the Amazon River. Frequent heavy rain formed a giant river and lake, covering the eroded granite with sediments that measured at 2,000 to 7,000 meters.
When the Great Rift Valley tore itself, the Plateau received lateral pressure which caused the strata to boil up like steamed eggs. A level meadow turned into a plateau that rose 800 to 1,600 meters depending on the region. The exposed sedimentary sandstone stratum weathered heavy rain and currents for an eon. After turning into a desert, it went through another round of heavy erosion.
In the last 500,000,000 years, the Ennedi Plateau was met with drastic changes from the Savanna to marshland to tropical wetland to desert. Climate change and diastrophism formed a peculiar landscape of red soil, deep vast valleys, wadis that flow under the rocks, exposed giant lumps of rock, and grotesque natural structures.
He heard the sound of flowing water. Gori strode to the edge of a sandstone cliff and stood there.
“Gori, to the right!”
“Gori, to the left!”
Kamuge scrutinized the valley through the silverback’s eyes. In the middle of the rocky valley’s surface, where rose vines and bromeliads were strewn, was a quite large stream of water. It was not surprising. Though the Ennedi Plateau was covered with coarse and dry sandstone and sand, many wadis with flowing water and lakes were hidden.
Kamuge jumped off the gorilla. The succession of trees looked like a line of furry beasts. The entrance was narrow, as if it was a hole made by a hard blow of an ax. But the inner space was spacious like a large jar. Kamuge sighed.
He had been headed for this precise destination for eight straight days to flee the terrible entity. Bachilkile was a sandstone valley located southwest of the Ennedi Plateau which was 80 kilometers away from Pada. The length of the valley was 31 kilometers and the width varied from 2-300 meters to 10 meters.
There was water in Bachilkile. This water, the source of which was ambiguous, pooled and flowed in the wadis and in between rocks and vanished without a trace. Lakes were strewn across the valley but their source was not identifiable either.
Voodoo shamans considered the Bachilkile Valley as a sacred ground. At one point in time, more than 500 shamans stayed in this valley to evade Britain and France’s oppression. Houngan Odam, Kamuge’s great teacher, also practiced his arts and made zombies here.
The shamans gathered here because it was discreet. The thousands of indigenous people across the Plateau suffered terribly because of the shamans.
The kidnapped indigenous people were used as test subjects or made into tools for rituals. Zombified indigenous people were used to kidnap indigenous people living hundreds of kilometers away. In the early 20th century, French troops wiped out the shamans but their notoriety persisted. The indigenous people never approached the Devil’s valley or even mentioned it.
Kamuge came to the valley to retrieve his teacher’s belongings and gather followers. There was water here. Crops like sorghum, millet, and corn could grow in the wide flatland inside the valley. It was a great hideout where one could sustain oneself.
Gori roared and jumped from the 20-meter-tall cliff. The eroded sandstone collapsed but Gori did not flinch. Kamuge jumped off Gori’s chest.
“Rila, get me some water.”
Kamuge looked back at the female gorilla who jumped in turn. Rila scratched her head, confused.
“This is driving me crazy!”
He had forgotten that they did not understand language. They only understood simple phrases like “Kill” or “Attack” or “Stop”. Gori understood a bit more, and knew phrases like “Kill quickly” or “Don’t kill” or “Drag here”. But they were roughly the same standard of intelligence. Kamuge, unmotivated to teach them language, went down to the wadi himself. He pitied himself for doing a slave’s work after losing all his followers.
“It’s real water!”
It was the first clear water he had encountered in seven days. Kamuge knelt down and dipped his face in the wadi and drank in big gulps. In East Africa, “real water” referred to clear, uncontaminated water. It was rare and seemingly clear water could contain parasites.
Kamuge shuddered as if he had drunk quality whiskey. He could magically purify contaminated water but that was not comparable to natural clear water. For the past eight days, he left the jungle of Ituri and hurried 3,100 kilometers through the Central African Republic and Sudan to Ennedi.
The gorilla did the running but he stayed awake with them for the whole journey as well. Water, entering a tired and thirsty body, turned into bliss. Kamuge filled his belly with water until he could hear it sloshing inside. His hazy mind became clear again.
He stared at the two gorillas drinking water with their mouths in the wadi. They drank just like wild gorillas, using their tongues like a ladle.
Kamuge covered his head with both hands. Those stupid gorillas were what his Rousseloufe turned into. An angel’s egg, a great treasure, turned into useless goons in a moment of indecision. He was truly sad that his field of view had become hazy.
He gritted his teeth hard. He was truly resentful. The first culprit is Bosco Ntaganda. If he had not coveted the egg of Rousseloufe, Kamuge could have overthrown the Mobutu regime by now.
The second culprit was Petro. Kadangka was the best place for the maturation of Rousseloufes. If only he had a fortnight or at least ten days, all the Rousseloufes would have matured properly. Three Rousseloufes were an unrivaled force. With them, he could even pressure the United States. He certainly would not have been defeated by the otherworldly lwa or the beast of doom.
What was this?
His army, raised over the course of 10 years, was obliterated. His base, established over three years, was destroyed. He lost his home and army. He was ousted like a stray dog. The most stinging loss was the Rousseloufes. The two gorillas had immense strength but no sense of self. Kamuge sighed repeatedly. They were no different from a spell-enhanced Ouma except with much greater strength.
The silverback rose suddenly and glared at the inner part of the valley. A gunshot echoed. A bullet penetrated its boulder-like shoulder. The silverback’s eyes turned red. The bullet was repelled. By the time it hit the ground, the wound had already healed. Its rate of regeneration surpassed even that of Black Mamba, Samdi, and Haunters.
Bullets kept coming in from inside the valley. The aim was superb, possibly of a top-grade sniper. All bullets hit Gori’s body. Gori squirmed as if he were itchy. The bullets fell to the ground.
“It was already occupied.”
Kamuge muttered indifferently. Even though it was faulty, Gori’s body had the divinity of Rousseloufe. It was a different level from an Ouma that was enhanced with spells.
Near the upper stream of the Bachilkile valley, dozens of sand-colored tents were lined up. A herd of camels was leisurely ruminating in the shade of a rock. It seemed like the resting camp of a large caravan. But along the outer perimeter, things looked different: dozens of jeeps and motorcycles were lined up neatly and a machine-gun nest was set up.
A hoarse voice called from a peculiarly large central tent.
“You called, sir?”
A sturdily built Arab man in his 30s pushed aside the felt curtain at the entrance and entered the tent. A man who was engrossed in a field-battle table pushed the map away and looked up. A lean face with no excess flesh whatsoever. Glossy eyes. A sharp hawk nose. It was Abu Bansiri, the major general of Aloadin.
“I told you not to do shooting drills during the day. It’s 48 degrees Celcius now. A trained soldier’s lungs are not immune to dried-up air.”
“It’s not a drill. It’s real, sir.”
“What are you talking about?”
Bansiri’s eyes grew sharper. The Ennedi Plateau was a peculiar location. Red soil and blue skies. A sandstorm masking them all. Combined, they caused many optical illusions. A big camel caravan would suddenly appear. Sometimes, an armed army. Some soldiers, surprised, will start shooting at them but they were mere illusions made by the earth’s heat and a tired brain.
“Our soldiers are stalling Iblis.”
“Iblis? Hah, they would shoot at djinns. Now, we’ve got their boss?”
Bansiri’s eyes shone. The essence of Iblis, the king of djinns, was fire. The Ennedi Plateau’s wretched heat could bring it forth..