Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 501
“Chef, are you aware of the symptoms of saffron poisoning?”
“Saffron is an expensive spice and a top-tier dye. Another use of it is as an aphrodisiac. My master chef said if you overdose on it, you become as relaxed as a willy that has just done the deed… Excuse my crudeness. You become as relaxed as soaked cotton.”
Yijihana quickly changed his phrasing. He wanted to smack his own mouth for uttering a crude metaphor in front of the noble Dubaiburupa.
‘Buddy, some willies don’t relax even after the deed!’
Mu Ssang laughed internally. He must have meant that one’s muscles relaxed. It was something worth experimenting with.
Mu Ssang glared at the test sample on the dish. A red-bean-sized piece was separated from the lump of the test sample. The mole rat’s mouth was opened and the gray separated piece entered it.
His newly acquired ability, Psychokinesis, was suitable for messy tasks like this in which Mu Ssang would prefer not to use his own hands. It may seem like overkill but Mu Ssang’s inclination toward efficiency explained it.
The mole rat screeched and jumped about. It fell to the floor then its limbs were contorted in grotesque directions. The poor thing’s life ended within 10 seconds.
Langsam Tschüss normally kicked in slowly, but in this case, the stomach acid had dissolved the coating and enhancing the curare, revealing the poison’s intense toxicity. Strychnine is a lethal poison used by farmers to repel bears and wolves that harmed their cattle during the era of the American frontier.
They laced bait with poison. Animals that ate it died. The wolves, which ate their carcasses, then died as well. The bears ate the wolves’ carcasses then died. It was way too lethal for a 30-gram mole rat to survive.
“Huh, there’s an assassin!”
Yijihana’s eyes widened, his eyelids were almost going to rip. The body of the naked mole-rat had its limbs contorted and its backbone bent like a bow. It was a much more lethal poison than saffron. There was some lunatic who attempted to assassinate great Dubaiburupa. He was even more shocked because he was in charge of the food. His head was racing with hectic thoughts.
“Chef, pour some liquor in the wineglass.”
Yijihana, back to the present moment, poured some akra in the wineglass. It was the wineglass whose inside had been coated by Langsam Tschüss by Walter. The dissolved Langsam Tschüss danced in strands in the liquid.
Another mole rat’s mouth had its mouth open and was fed the laced akra. Unexpectedly, the mole rat stumbled drunkenly but was fine. The mole rat that was fed the test sample died instantly but this one, who was expected to die, was fine.
“Did I overreact?”
Mu Ssang wondered. He did not understand why.
“Samdi, send this to Giz for analysis.”
Mu Ssang was not inclined to wonder about uncertain phenomena. The dead are dead and the living are alive. He sent the wineglass, leftover bouillabaisse, and test sample to the MSF hospital. Walter’s efforts, who had developed the slow-acting poison and exhaustively planned the assassination, were all foiled by Mu Ssang’s one sentence.
“Comme on fait son lit on se couche! One sleeps the bed that one made! Right prevails in the end.”
Mu Ssang, Ombuti, and the rest of Black Culture sat around a gigantic round table in the parlor of Yoa House. The absentees were Paul in Djibouti, Bellman in California, Emil in the Foreign Legion, Edel in sleep, and Giz who was processing Walter’s body. Mu Ssang was going to check up on the overall situation in Novatopia, appoint the leaders in each sector, then head to Korea.
The mistress was not around but no one thought of it as weird. Everyone in the room knew what happened in Yoa House last night. Ombuti, who considered himself as the protector of Edel, had slipped the word about what was happening in the bedroom. All in-house staff had vacated the place. What was happening inside was anyone’s guess.
Bassel, on behalf of the exhausted Edel, received the guests. Bassel, who was recognized as a legal wife of Ombuti, was de facto one of the most important women among them. Dinofelis was also sitting in a corner of the wide round table. Mu Ssang, who had hung out with everyone and everything in the bottommost part of the world, did not prioritize people over animals.
“Ombuti, brief us on the current state of Novatopia.”
Maybe his position had shaped him to some degree. He had the charisma worthy of a leader of a nation.
“Aye, sir. Novatopia’s area is precisely 25,580 square kilometers and the total length of the borders is 750 kilometers. Its population is currently 63,280 and increasing by 10,000 every month as of now. OVer 500,000 refugees are waiting at the border, waiting for an entry permit. We are taking in as many refugees as our infrastructure can withstand but it is still overwhelmed.”
“The border length of 750 kilometers is exactly the same as the Maginot Lines. What a coincidence.”
Mu Ssang’s smile was slightly bitter. The Maginot Lines were fortified fronts against Germany, constructed by the French army minister Maginot in World War I. It took ten years and 16,000,000,000 francs to build them but they futilely collapsed at the German military’s armored attack. The Maginot Lines were synonymous with wasted effort. A fortress did not fit into an era of chemical weaponry.
“Shall we expand our borders?”
Mohammad gauged Mu Ssang’s reaction. It was an absurd suggestion but Black Culture was unstoppable. If Dubaiburupa gave them an order, they would have overthrown the Chad government at once.
“The more we have, the more we have to manage. Let’s see it later.”
Mu Ssang waved it away. What they already had was taxing enough.
Even though he had said so, Ombuti’s eyes looked otherwise. He was a former merchant and Tuareg warrior who sprinted throughout the desert. In his eyes, Novatopia was too small to be Wakil’s kingdom. The others did not seem different. Once the opportunity showed itself, they would make a mess at once.
“Blue Art, Blue Art the desert! I shall begin with the work progress.”
As soon as Ombuti finished the sentence, Nejema erected a chart board and held the pointing stick. Mu Ssang eyed Ombuti with curiosity.
“I have appointed Ombuti as the inspector general of the project.”
Mu Ssang nodded without saying a word. If Ombuti, who was experienced, appointed Nejema as the inspector general, there must be a reason.
“Make the desert green!”
Nejema shouted, thrusting both hands in the air.
“Thus said Dubaiburupa.”
The people sat around the round table and repeated after him, holding up their right hands. Dino, reading the air, held up his right paw and roared. Dino had all the rights to sit at the round table.
“One who doesn’t work shall not eat!”
“Thus said Dubaiburupa.”
“Just compensation for the workers!”
“Thus said Dubaiburupa.”
“Freedom for the rich, opportunities for the poor!”
“Thus said Dubaiburupa.”
“Have you tried it?”
“Thus said Dubaiburupa.”
The chanting ended there with “Have you tried it?” Strangely, the “Have you tried it?” at the end was in Korean.
‘What are they doing? Ugh.’
Mu Ssang screamed internally. All the phrases were taken from what he had said. He felt as if he was in the people’s square in North Korea. His blush turned into a flush when he heard the last phrase, “Have you tried it?” All the capillaries in his face seemed to expand at once.
He was embarrassed and wanted to wear a mask. Come to think of it, the shouts from the lakeshore in the morning sounded similar to the phrases they chanted now.
“Project Blue Art is currently ongoing with eight divisions: the great waterway, windbreak forest, hub cities, energy belt, agricultural belt, industrial belt, tourism belt. The agricultural belt has five divisions: crops, cattle, coffee, pasture, and seeds…”
Mu Ssang raised his hand.
“Nejema, skip the details and brief us on the work progress and issues.”
Nejema tensed up. He had forgotten Mu Ssang’s character. He abhorred complexity. Once he tasked someone with something, he rarely got involved.
“The waterway is smoothly ongoing thanks to the aquifer you discovered. Lieutenant Pellpeng’s aquifer development team has withdrawn after drilling 25 wells at 10 sites … When we ready the waterway, we can supply 400,000,000 liters of water daily. Current completion is at 35 percent. Afwerki is working hard to install the pipes. As for the roads, we plan to pave 2,800 kilometers outside the borders and 1,200 kilometers within Novatopia. For the first, the progress is at 85 percent. For the latter, the completion is at 45 percent. The windbreak forest is at 65-percent progress along the 490 kilometers of the northwestern border. Depending on the frequency and intensity of the sandstorm, the width varies from 100 meters to 300 meters. The most planted tree species are jatrophas, willows, and yellow poplars… As for the crops: mainly sorghum, wheat, cassava, yam, beans, and we are test-cultivating various crops. The sorghum and cassavas are especially thriving. The sorghum is also planned to be used to provide shade in the coffee farms… The tourism belt is divided into the Lake Yoa region, Serir lake region, and Ennedi plateau region. The infrastructure is currently limited to roads, utility facilities, and souvenir shops. When we do open it to the public, we will limit the entry of vehicles and operate camel sightseeing transport.”
Mu Ssang was startled.
“Is there a problem? Shall we cancel it?”
Something was up with Mu Ssang but Nejema overlooked it and continued to brief.
“The progress is at 15 percent. As it is not a necessity, the progress is slow. When Kim, who is in charge of equipment, comes back from Korea, the progress will accelerate. That concludes the briefing.”
Mu Ssang clapped three times. The waterway, the lifeline of Novatopia, being at 35-percent completion, was motivating. It was thanks to Nejema’s idea to build a road alongside the waterway.
The average annual rainfall in Korea was 1,200 millimeters. Novatopia had greater annual rainfall but still saw frequent floods and droughts. It was due to poor water maintenance. The key to the development of Novatopia was Afwerki’s great waterway. The deepest part of the aquifer was said to be 2,000 meters deep. They would never need to worry about water running out, unlike oil.
“You did a great job. A vast water tank that is hundreds of millions of years old is under our feet. We have the money and technology to bring up the water. The prosperity of Sodom and Gomorrah in Bab-Edh-Dhra was also thanks to its underground water. Bab-Edh-Dhra’s annual rainfall is mere 70 millimeters. Novatopia’s is 200 millimeters. Nothing prevents us from building our paradise.”
“Thus said Dubaiburupa. Have you tried it?”
Black Culture shouted at once.
‘They are all infected by the Ombuti virus.’
Mu Ssang shook his head. Anything he said soon was turned into the gospel. It was an adverse effect of the performance of walking on water last night. The event, which was aimed at gaining the people’s trust, was overly effective and produced fanatics. Even if he tried to discourage them, it would not have worked. Mu Ssang decided to accept it.
“Nejema, report the issues.”
“First, money. Second, electricity. Third, weapons.”
Nejema answered simply but the situation was not as simple. Each project was a big-scale construction. They drained money like black holes. The governor had ordered to place no further financial burden upon Wakil but only he could resolve this specific issue.
“Ombuti, 530,000,000 francs were transferred to my Paribas account.”
“Sir? Did you say 530,000,000 francs?”
Ombuti remarked in surprise.
“The French government has been generous with the allowances.”
“Whoa!” Black Culture exclaimed simultaneously. Wakir was indeed someone. He was like a well of money.
“Per the contract agreed with Dapsang, starting from next month, 500,000,000 dollars will be transferred each month, 2,000,000,000 dollars in total. At the current exchange rate, it equals to 7,600,000,000 francs. And the Doba oil field will yield oil in 60 days. Don’t worry about money and focus on the work.”
The attendees around the round table heaved a sigh of relief at once. The amount of money he wielded was astronomical. The only problem was that their only source of money was Dubaiburupa. The development would progress faster but they felt bad for draining his pockets.
“We feel bad, friend.”
Shernion and Orifice lowered their heads. Unlike the Africans like Ombuti, they had a notion that public assets and private assets should be separated.
“Why do you feel so all of a sudden? I’ve heard you two poured your own money into the coffee farms.”
“It was no significant amount and more of an investment for profit. It didn’t really contribute to the infrastructure.”
“What are you talking about? A contribution is a contribution.”
Mu Ssang looked at Ombuti.
“Ombuti, how is the management of my accounts?”
“Net profit of 2,000,000 francs per quarter.”
“See? That is more than enough for me and Ombuti. A big amount of money, even if in my hands, it is not really mine. It finds where it should go on its own.”
Mu Ssang smiled widely.
‘Look at that smile! How beautiful!’
Orifice’s eyes were mesmerized. The smile of Dubaiburupa was exquisite. His smiling face seemed to expand and fill the whole conference room. Orifice stood unwittingly and bowed to Mu Ssang.
“Wakil, I had no idea that a life of serving others with one’s abilities would be as enjoyable as this. For the past year, I have felt so rewarded and happy. You are a true prophet and a great soul. I, Hawk Orifice, would like to fully commit to our cause. I want to be your follower.”
“Professor Orifice, you are acting weird. We are good friends. You should not start praising me just because I walked on water and showed some tricks. Are you already infected by the Ombuti virus?”
Mu Ssang stared at Orifice, astonished. Professor Shernion stood abruptly and bowed.
“When faced with an incomprehensible phenomenon, a scientist is poised to examine it, not believe in it. We will remain rational even if you start walking in the air, not just on water. Novatopia needs an order of command for it to be shaped properly. I have been jealous of Ombuti ever since I worked with you. I submit my application to be your follower too..”