Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 503
“It’s nothing significant. I just retrieved some bodies and articles left behind in the jungle and they are paying me back by constructing the power plant,” Mu Ssang said nonchalantly.
He did not do it for the reward but the government is repaying it anyway. Samdi opened his mouth in amazement. Mu Ssang was even more indifferent than him, who used to be a zombie. A dark forest without a spot where the sun touched, bottomless swamps and valleys, unrelenting venomous insects and snakes, alligators and hippos charging with their red maws open, all of those things were like a joke to him.
They had fought an ancient crocodile, were dragged into sticky marshland entangled in a monster’s tentacles, and entered a monster’s belly after a fierce fight. The hellish jungle was still terribly vivid in his head. If that was nothing, what ever was something?
“What a great merchant! Our stupid froggy comrades are so soft. It is so easy to toy with them. If I were with Wakil, I’d have made a fortune!”
Fifteen pairs of eyes were trained on Sun WooHyun. Their gazes were not favorable.
“Did I say something wrong? Why are you all looking at me?”
“Tsk, a simpleton!” Ombuti clucked his tongue.
A box of herring reeked of herring. There was a French proverb like that. It was difficult to change human nature. Even after a bitter defeat, that man still retained his hyperactive personality. In a reality where a nation’s king was working firsthand on construction sites, it was even more of an unbearable sight to behold. He referred to their soul master as a merchant. He wanted to crack open Sun WooHyun’s head and examine his brain.
Dino stood furtively and approached Sun WooHyun.
‘What is this thing doing?’
Sun WooHyun curiously stared at Dino who had its head close to him. Dino opened its mouth wide. Its diaphragm applied pressure on its lungs which robustly pushed air into its echo chamber.
A thunder-like roar erupted. Unexpectedly receiving sound wave explosions, Sun WooHyun jumped. When the ear-splitting pain passed, his ears were filled with a buzzing sound like a bee’s. Sun WooHyun glared at Dino while cupping his ears, then heaved a deep sigh. Fighting with a beast that could not even talk would only make him seem more pathetic.
‘Fair play!’ Dino, after neutralizing Sun WooHyun, held up his front paw and shook it. Black Culture gave Dino a thumbs-up. After defusing a human bomb, Dino had gained the right to join the meeting.
“Weapons? What about human resources?”
“We are conscripting both men and women. We have enough military power but we have a severe lack of support weapons and patrol cars. Once the regiment is formed, we will need more rifles too.”
“Is that so? Ombuti, how is public security handled?”
Mu Ssang looked back at Ombuti. When they were going through the city, he saw two kinds of uniforms. They were tending to so many things then that he did not even have time to ask.
“We have strikers in charge of border security and militia in charge of domestic security. The strikers, headed by Ibrahim, are regiment-sized. They are comprised of a Kurdish Peshmerga battalion, a mixed-gender Arab Intifada battalion, and a Rainbow battalion made up of Eritrean refugees. There are three in total. In order to promote solidarity and healthy competition, we organized the troops by ethnic group. The total headcount is 600 because we still have yet to organize a heavy artillery troop. Aishe is in charge of the militia whose headcount is 300 divided into two troops.”
“An incomplete regiment and two troops. For our current population, it is more than enough but considering future growth and external circumstances, it is not sufficient.”
“Three months ago, we welcomed 3,000 Tuaregs from Kel Air. All of their cattle had perished because of the prolonged drought in the Sahel region. As they left their camping ground and wandered in the desert, the old and weak mostly perished, leaving behind men and relatively healthy women. These are an innately warring tribe. They are quality manpower but were not formed into a regiment because we didn’t have your permission yet.”
“That falls within the governor’s authority. Why do you need my permission?”
“First, it’s because I am from Kel Air myself. I didn’t want any misunderstandings that could insinuate that I am forming my own squad or attempting to gather power. Second, we still don’t have an easy way to discern Kikali’s spies among them.”
“Hmm. Lieutenant Colonel Aham Kikali!”
He had forgotten that name. Kikali was Habib’s subordinate and the leader of the greater group of Tuareg tribes. He remembered his horse-like face and how he invited him to conquer the Sahara together.
“He may not be the caliber of heroes but would surely be a capable villain in troubled times. He would have become independent from the FROLINAT by now.”
“It is so. It is 450 kilometers from Mt. Emi Koussi to Djourab Erg is Kikali’s territory. He is now busy unifying the Tuaregs in the Vilma area,” Mohammad answered.
“How powerful are his forces?”
“The headcount is at 3,000. They are proactively incorporating the dispersed FROLINAT remnants and the hostile Toubou tribe. Kikali’s scouts are on camels wandering near our southeastern border. They are likely to prove troublesome in the future.”
“The misunderstandings are preposterous and I will take care of the second issue. The only natural resource in Novatopia is its people. If we don’t make the best use of this resource, Novatopia has no future. There is a solution for every problem. People should be given jobs at which they excel at. Farmers shall wield plows and soldiers shall wield guns. There is no reason to let capable soldiers rot in idleness. Novatopia has already caught everyone’s attention. As Novatopia prospers, not just Kikali, but America, Russia, Libya, Sudan, and other surrounding countries will send their spies to infiltrate our borders. When we accept refugees, examine them extensively and once they pass the examination, trust them and make use of them.”
“I will now ask everyone a question.” Mu Ssang stopped talking and looked around at the whole audience. His firmly closed lips and piercing eyes exuded certain charisma. The people in the audience found themselves straightening their posture subconsciously.
“You drank the blood of the covenant today. Even before that, I have already accepted you as my family. I don’t have a family of my own. You are my family. Should there ever be a fight for power in a family? When our nest is broken, everything will be in vain. A small crack can make the dike collapse. Novatopia is standing on a point when one step forward will lead to great leaps and one step back will lead to ruins. When a house catches fire, it must be put out before anything else. Finding out who started the fire comes after that. If you don’t trust your family, the nest will fall apart. Remember that.”
His stern caution made everyone hold their breath. Orifice stood abruptly and blamed Ombuti.
“Aklan crew, you are the master’s representative. None of us would ever harbor suspicion against you. You need to communicate with us a lot more rather than staring at your notebook and doing all the work on your own. Your unnecessary words brought about Wakil’s caution.”
“Haha. I would like to apologize in front of all of my brothers and sisters. Our master said that when someone does something out of character, it means their final days are approaching. Maybe my time has come. I apologize.”
“It is also our fault. We were oblivious to your burden. Let’s meet regularly for a barbecue or something.”
Ombuti’s apology and Orifice’s response thawed the abruptly frozen ambiance.
“My words of caution had chilled the ambiance. A good cat is good at hunting mice. If you want a good cat to stay in your house, you should give it a delicious fish. Even among family members, fair treatment is essential. Tasenzoter, the symbol of Amenocal’s authority, is for moments like this.”
“I see. I will immediately organize the Tuaregs into a regiment.”
“I say this again, but people are resources. Make use of the prisoners by giving them physical labor. If someone speaks of human rights, smash their jaws. When you starve them, they are bound to start working.”
At his horrible words, Professor Mulsoli and the rest opened their mouths wide, abhorred. Ombuti nodded as if it was a matter of course. Wakil had said that prisoners on death row should be executed by exhaustion or overworking on construction sites. It was to be expected.
“What about the lack of weapons? Should we access the black market through Bellman?”
Mohammad asked cautiously. Weapons could not be bought in supermarkets even if one had the money.
“There is no need. I have agreed upon the transfer of weaponry with the DGSE. Starting from next week, some of the French military’s weapons will be transferred to us. Helicopters, light-armored tanks, jeeps, field cannons, anti-artillery cannons, machine guns, assault rifles, and miscellaneous supplies. All of these are going to pour in. One truck’s worth will be sufficient to equip one brigade. The second wave of supplies will correspond with the organization of our military.”
Fifteen mouths opened wide in amazement. They were already overwhelmed by the maintenance of the reduced-sized three troops. The supplies needed to equip a proper-sized brigade are tremendous.
“Oh, my. We should build supply depots immediately!” Mulsoli shouted.
“Haha. We will need an air force.”
Ibrahim’s mouth was stretched in a wide grin. He recalled the nightmarish memory of being hounded by Turkish attack helicopters in the mountains in Osmaniye. Mu Ssang handed a thick file to Nejema.
“Nejema, that file contains a series of reports on Novatopia compiled by the DGSE. It includes the Circumstances of the Surrounding Countries, Military Strength Analysis with Regards to Geopolitical Positioning, Military Organization, Administrative System, Forestation Planning and more. Take them into account.”
Nejema bowed deeply. It was information much needed for a newly founded country like Novatopia. He was in awe at his master’s unending feats of capacity.
“Will we even have time to go to the bathroom and sleep? I have been working hard by my standards but it feels like I can’t even mention it.”
Everyone nodded at Orifice’s words. With his unending source of money, he resolved any issue with a few words. An acorn needs to tumble 100 times to match a pumpkin’s one tumbling. Dubaiburupa had just shown why he is called Dubaiburupa.
“That’s something that needs to be said. Everyone here should look in the mirror. Your faces are covered white in the cracked dust of your own skin. Your eyes are deep in their sockets in exhaustion. Your sunburned, protruding cheekbones are the only shiny part on your face. You look more like zombies than humans. I do not ever want to drink a glass of mourning wine in front of my subordinates’ graves. I want to reminisce about our past together and drink a cup of celebratory wine.”
“Your future children will also be there!”
The faces of Black Culture lit up. Their master had a way with his words.
“Platitudes. Professor Giz should take care of these zombies.”
“I see. I shall cook up some nutritious ampoules.” Giz grinned. Whether he was an asura or a king, the young fellow had not changed a bit. He was still a friendly, kind-hearted fellow.
“I will cut to the chase and hand out your presents now. There are only 30 of these that I will give to you today. It is more like a token than a gift. Anyone who receives it shall expect to work until their bones turn to dust. This dust will be buried in the land of Novatopia. Anyone who does not want that should tell me now.” Mu Ssang smirked.
“Per Dubaiburupa’s will!”
No one refused the gift. Samdi brought the box which contained the tooth of Sarcosuchus. Sun WooHyun and others showed extreme curiosity at the pick-shaped tooth that was longer than 300 millimeters.
Ivories, a hippo’s tooth, a rhino’s horn… Many conjectures were uttered. The most popular guesses were “the ivories of the dwarf elephant native to the jungle of Ituri” and “the molars of a mutant pekari”. Mu Ssang and Ombuti said nothing but smiled knowingly. Samdi held the giant tooth and spoke.
“Everyone guessed wrong. This is the tooth of a Sarcosuchus, a crocodile from the Mesozoic era. I caught it with my bare hands in the jungle of Ituri.”
“You must be kidding!”
Everyone’s face held an incredulous expression. It was not a fossil but an impeccable fang without any minute cracks. The Mesozoic era? Had the crocodile come here in a time machine?
“That’s astonishing. A crocodile is the only life form with dozens of cone-shaped fangs. How many meters was the length of its body? Even a massive Nile crocodile’s fangs measure at 50 millimeters.”
Professor Mulsoli’s surprise had a different tone than other people’s. Having majored in geology in college, she knew Samdi was not bluffing. She was not sure if it was really a Mesozoic crocodile or a mutant monster but a 350-millimeter fang was 10 times bigger than a crocodile from our era. If it was revealed to the public, it would make quite a buzz.
“Maybe 15 meters? It was a vehement one. With a single bite, it could topple trees. With a single blow of its tail, it could smash rocks. Lackey, you wanted to go to the jungle of Ituri with Master. How are you going to fend for yourself in a place swarming with things like this?”
“Are you sure?”
Sun WooHyun’s face was blue. His physical strength had been greatly augmented but he still could not face such a monster. Only an ignorant brute like Samdi could. A person that does not give much thought about their own future. Sun WooHyun had not expected himself to be sent to Ituri soon.
“Tsk, tsk.” Samdi clucked his tongue instead of answering him. He surely would have given him a smack had he not been someone from Master’s hometown.
White dust floated up vigorously from the Sarcosuchus tooth held in Mu Ssang’s hand. Light flashed and there was a hole in the tooth. Black Culture was mesmerized by the tooth’s transformation. In five minutes, the tooth was shaped into a milky-white knife. Mu Ssang engraved Ombuti’s name on the hilt.
Mu Ssang met the eyes of each one of the 15 subordinates. In the confusion of the moment, he became the master of their souls and drank their blood of the covenant. The situation progressed more rapidly than he had ever envisioned. It was time to tune things up and leave. He held the knife, glistening in the sunlight, high up in the air..