Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 486
An ill-tempered wasp at the crossroads of life and death was not going to fall without resisting. Mustering up all its strength, it stabbed the harasser’s tongue with the dagger at the end of its abdomen. Its venom sack, which was 10 times bigger than a honeybee’s, pulsed like a pair of bellows. The venom flowed through the 7-mm long sting. A pleasant-sounding purr emanated from Dino’s throat, which acted like a reverberating echo chamber.
Humans enjoyed tobacco and alcohol because of the stimulation it brings. Nicotine that stings the throat and alcohol that electrifies the tongue makes humans seek them repeatedly, unable to forget their sensations.
Dino was the same way. The venom of a wasp or a scorpion was meager but still, the stinging sensation on its tongue was quite addicting. Within hours of Samdi and Dino’s arrival at Yoa House, the wasps in the garden and the scorpions hiding in the house were massacred.
A reddish-brown beast, as big as a rodeo bull, emerged from the ground out of nowhere. Everyone was surprised.
“A monster! Fire!”
Chairman Margerie flailed his hands and shouted. Only Edel, with her unique tastes, considered Dino’s external appearance cute. Margerie’s face paled at the sight of a beast that was unseen and unheard of.
Ariba’s hand, reflexively dug into his jacket pocket. Mu Ssang raised his hand.
“There is no need to be surprised. Dino, stay outside.”
Dino, with an unsatisfied face, glared at Margerie and turned away. Its waving tail and giant backside filled the doorway of the entrance to the house.
‘I lucked out!’
Ariba let go of the holster and wiped the sweat formed on his forehead. Miguel, who was burned alive, was vivid in his mind’s eye. He lucked out not because the beast went away obediently. Because of Ariba’s shout, he was close to firing at Black Mamba’s pet. His heart pounded due to the shock.
Margerie’s mouth was agape.
“What was that?”
“A monster is your family! What a family you have.”
Margerie, placating his stunned heart, jested. He was the same kind of person as Sun WooHyun, who took care of their reputation.
“Dino is not a monster.”
His flat response offended Margerie. A beating by chicotte was necessary, for this precise reason, especially for the black-furred beast and yellow-skinned beast here. This beast was pretending to be a human, having received the advanced culture of Europe, but his beast-like nature remained. Margerie compensated for his surprise with spiritual victory.
“Oh, well. Of course. For you, it is family. A member of your family almost killed one of your guests. You could have warned me.”
Margerie, with an unfriendly face, blamed Ariba in a roundabout way.
“It’s his pet. The DGSE does not have sufficient resources to make a list of each individual’s pets.”
Ariba, who was offended, grumbled. The atmosphere in the room plummeted suddenly.
“This is incredible! I could never talk to the host comfortably like this.” Mu Ssang smiled without saying a word. The old man was struggling to assert dominance. It was an ancient negotiation tactic: to erode the other party’s confidence so they won’t be so aggressive.
“Mr. Chairman. This place is safer than the presidential palace. Mu Ssang has more than one subordinate that can take your entire team of bodyguards. I guarantee your safety.”
Ariba was dumbfounded. To be Total’s chairman was a notable status for sure but it was still nothing compared to Black Mamba’s. Ignorance easily leads to foolhardiness. What was he doing by calling bodyguards in Black Mamba’s lair?
“This rat is already bribed to the brim with Black Mamba’s money!”
Ariba’s certainty made Margerie grind his teeth. Everyone considered each situation according to their own experiences. Margerie firmly believed that Ariba was already Black Mamba’s supporter.
Because of what Ariba said, it was awkward for Margerie to keep talking about his bodyguards. Of course, he knew his bodyguards would be of no use. He could gauge the owner’s capability and status by his pet. Black Mamba was not a feeble man. He ruined his image trying to assert dominance.
“You are both very busy people. I suggest you conclude this quickly.”
Ariba, opening a file, hurried. Ariba had assumed the reason why Margerie was being callous was because the DGSE did not cooperate when Total attempted to purchase the Doba delta. Margerie had been furious but the director did not budge.
Bonipas, who was a secret supporter of Mu Ssang, was not going to help Margerie. He had repeatedly told Margerie to negotiate personally with the landowners. Margerie decided to straightforwardly ask for what was on his mind.
“Mr. Gulbeig. I will cut to the chase. Sell the Samaria farm to me.”
“You should be aware that it’s not a cotton farm but an oil field? How many barrels of oil do you think there is under the Doba delta?”
Mu Ssang smiled. This old man was filled with greed up to his neck. He did not care for politeness when it came to people like him.
‘You sneaky bastard!’
Margerie swore internally.
“Total has been probing the Doba delta since 10 years ago. When we were temporarily absent, you took it.”
“Did Total own the Samaria farm? Do you have a probing contract with Lord Edel?”
Margerie was struck speechless. He wanted to find a crack in his argument, or make one, but the other party was motionless like a rock. He was never going to sell the land. It was bad news for Margerie who wanted to profit without putting in the hard work.
“The Samaria farm takes up half of the area of the delta. I plan to purchase the remaining half of the delta. My company’s land department has already set off to negotiate with Chad’s government. If we each take half of the oil field, it will be to your detriment, Mr. Gulbeig. An individual could never rival a major oil corporation with great capital power.”
Margerie smiled maliciously. It was true. For farmland, 50 square kilometers was a lot but for an oil field, such a number was considered little. If two parties extracted from the same stratum, the one with more pipes will win.
“It was good for nothing in the end.”
Mu Ssang imitated Margerie’s malicious smile.
Margerie looked surprised. Something did not seem right. Ariba shook his head with pity. The director of the DGSE had suggested a solution in his nation’s interest. Margerie dismissed the DGSE’s advice and jumped about like a Sifaka monkey.
Margerie was known to be a greedy brute. If the director had not been warned, he would have hired mercenaries to take over the oil field. Of course, had he tried, he would have been obliterated. Ariba was not motivated to help him if it were not for national interest.
“Mr. Chairman, Mr. Gulbeig legally purchased ownership rights of 21 square kilometers of land in the Doba delta along the Pende river as of June 30th, 1985.”
“What? Why are you telling me this now?”
Margerie’s face hollowed.
“One of the roles of the DGSE is to monitor the movement of foreign assets. We are not obligated to report to you. I am aware that the director spoke with you about a MOU regarding the oil probing and development, not about the land.”
“I was fooled by a Saharan bumpkin. Is this why Bonipas told me that the game is over?”
Mu Ssang seemed to be prepared for everything. Margerie had underestimated him as some wacko pouring money into a desert. That was his undoing. Margerie felt his face flush. He lost his reputation big time.
Ariba handed the envelope containing the paperwork to Mu Ssang. Ariba did not like Margerie’s exhibition of greed. This gesture was intended to rile him up.
“This is the contract for the handover of property rights. Mr. Gulbeig purchased the 21 square kilometers of land for 100,000,000 francs, through legitimate means. The French government assures that the 50 square kilometers in the Doba delta is Mr. Gulbeig’s property and the land is leased to Novatopia.”
“Thank you. I owe you.”
Mu Ssang commended the fruits of Ariba’s frantic liaising with France and Chad.
“You are welcome. It is my duty as a public servant.”
Ariba’s face brightened up. Second to Bonipas, Ariba knew Black Mamba better than anyone. What Black Mamba said was at least 10 times more important than what the president said. He was thanked by Black Mamba and he even said he owed Ariba. It was like he acquired two insurances with good benefits.
Margerie subdued his frown with all his might. The DGSE, for some reason, was cooperating with the Saharan bumpkin. He did not know if there was an ulterior political motive or monetary transactions involved, but as Bonipas had said, the game was over.
Margerie was anxious. Total had just consolidated itself as a major oil company. Even if they acquired the whole Doba oil field, their rank would stay the same, but at least they could enhance their current status.
“Total will take care of all the probing, development, and sales of the Samaria oil field in Doba. The ownership share would be 50 to 50.”
Margerie cut to the chase and gave his offer. When Total was the only party investing, giving Mu Ssang a 50 percent share was an unconventional offer. But that is only the case if it was a common oil field. Bonipas’ warning that excessive greed leads to ruin had already evaporated in Margerie’s head. He was a merchant after all. Merchants were the kind that would willingly cut out a pound of their own flesh for the most meager of profits. If it was someone else’s flesh, it was all the better.
“Mr. Ariba, Director Bonipas’ negotiation skills do not stem from his patriotism. He would not have a lot of employment offers after he retires from public work. This doesn’t bode well for further talk.”
Mu Ssang complained. He was not the type to negotiate. Instead, he showed the other party all his cards and sought mutual benefit. It enraged him to continue to negotiate with an old man that was greedy to no end. If it were not for his friendship with Bonipas, he would have kicked Margerie out long ago.
Ariba looked at Margerie with accusing eyes. Margerie did not budge. To his standards, the share he offered did not seem absurd.
“Mr. Ariba. The 50 percent share is very generous on our part. Total plans to plant 500 drilling pipes for the next 10 years in the Samaria oil field in Doba. The development cost is estimated to be 2,000,000 dollars. Total’s technological department deemed Samaria as P2 and estimated the reserve to be 300,000,000 barrels. By current oil prices, it converts to 9,300,000,000 dollars. If we invest 2,000,000 dollars for 10 years, the maximum profit we can derive from it is 4,600,000,000 dollars. Mr. Gulbeig doesn’t invest a penny in the development of the oil field. Cotton farming would yield 9,000,000 francs per year, which converts into 3,000,000 dollars per year. Deducting labor and equipment costs, the net profit would not exceed 2,000,000 dollars. By simply handing over 50 percent of ownership, you get 500,000,000 dollars per year. No one has ever been this lucky in the history of oil development.”
Margerie said it out loud for Mu Ssang to hear and crossed his arms. It was to pressure him and to make it seem like it did not matter to him if they made an agreement or not. The oil cartel had a concrete defense matrix. They competed with each other fiercely within it but did not let any new competitor in. With Total’s interference, Mu Ssang would not be able to buy any drill or a barrel of washing liquid. Margerie decided that he would make use of the available Blue Water mercenaries to obliterate Mu Ssang’s forces.
“Margerie, I am Sbard Gulbeig. It means ‘the one that seeks gold in a world of darkness.’ You are too corrupt to be my partner in my pursuit of gold. You must first shed the dogma that the world revolves around you. This concludes today’s talk.”
Mu Ssang ended the negotiation. Oil was a resource that had no replacement. Maybe it will be more cumbersome, but he did not need to worry about the future when he had a unique asset. What Margerie threatened him with only applied to normal human beings. Mu Ssang was not interested in tiresome negotiations at all.
“Wait, Mr. Gulbeig. What I meant…”
A knock on the door interrupted Margerie. Samdi entered pushing a coffee cart.
Margerie’s eyes widened. The man’s stature dwarfed the coffee cart. He never knew a human being could grow to this size.
As Margerie was about to take the coffee mug from Samdi, his hand hit the ceramic mug. This was mainly due to his confused state at Mu Ssang’s unexpected, bold response. The mug fell.
When Margerie was registering surprise, Samdi moved like a flash of light. His feet took the falling coffee mug. His body was massive but his movements were featherlike. The feet, supporting the mug, moved about in the air.
The falling coffee liquid was back in the mug in no time. Samdi’s movements surpassed that of an agile acrobat. Samdi placed the mug on the table as if nothing had happened.
“It was Yirgacheffe, dripped by the mistress of Yoa House herself.”
Margerie’s mouth fell agape. The mountain-like body moved like a feather, ignoring gravity. He could discern the black man’s power from just that movement..