Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 538
“Hey, you. Not everyone can become the boss, know what I mean? You can only become one if you’re capable of seeing a thousand leagues ahead while sitting down. By the way, I heard that Mrs. Jae Soo is worried a lot lately? You two had some baby trouble, didn’t you? However, let me tell ya, you did the right thing by marrying her.”
“Woah!” Sang-han gasped in surprise before glaring angrily at his mother.
His mother jumped up in surprise herself before shaking her head so fast, it seemed like she would unscrew her head from her shoulders. She had not said a single word about this topic, after all!
Mu Ssang smirked knowingly while pulling out a cheque book. “Well, I’ve been checking out the housing market since I was building one, you see? The funds remaining after buying the vineyard is to buy my nephew some powder milk, got that? I was too busy the last couple of years and had no clue that you got married, never mind my nephew joining this world. So, to prevent you from grumbling later on, take this and do your thing.”
Mu Ssang placed a cheque in Sang-han’s hand before winking at Edel. She silently raised her thumb up high.
“B-boss!” Sang-han couldn’t finish his sentence and was faltering on his seat. Emotions welled up and his nostrils began feeling numb, as if he blew his nose a bit too hard.
“There’s this other thing I must take care of, so I’ll excuse myself, alright?” Mu Ssang then quickly left the study as if he was running away. He was afraid Sang-han’s mother would raise one hell of a fuss that would put Ombuti to shame.
“H-hey, wait a minute, will ya?!”
Sang-han’s jaw hit the floor, while his mother put her hands together toward Mu Ssang’s departing back and began bowing her head repeatedly. Not only did Mu Ssang bring her son back from the brink, he even saved the lives of Sang-han’s wife, the infant grandson and an old hag like her.
All she did was feed him a few times, hand out used clothes and give him a bit of pocket money every now and then. None of those things was noteworthy events since that boy was her son’s friend… Yet they returned a million fold in value all these years later. How was she even supposed to react to this windfall!
What Mu Ssang said about how deeply he was grateful for her giving him the leftover rice and some young radish kimchi continued to echo in her ears. His back as he crossed the wide yard seemed to grow bigger and bigger in her vision until she couldn’t see anything else.
“He’s so cool, isn’t he?” Edel grinned brightly.
“Boss was also cool ten years ago, you know.” Sang-han’s voice trembled as he replied to her.
They said that having a smart wife would lead you to good fortune. If it hadn’t been for Sang-han’s wife nagging him to come here in the first place, he’d still be lamenting about his broken life, resenting the unfair world and wasting away what remained of his life.
There was no such thing as a neverending party. Guests went to their assigned quarters to get some rest, leaving only Ombuti and Bonipas in the study along with Mu Ssang. They remained behind to report on the current situation in Novatopia, the international political landscape, CIA’s movements, and the transport of the stored military material.
“Three hundred thousand already? Isn’t the rate of the population increasing a bit too fast?” Mu Ssang asked, slightly worried.
In less than a year, Novatopia’s population reached 250,000. If this kept up, that number would shoot past half a million before the end of the current year.
“Please don’t worry, my lord. Black Culture members are keeping a tight rein on things.”
“This clearly demonstrates how many people are still driven to a desperate corner, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, sir. The civil wars in the neighboring country have intensified, while the European nations beyond the Mediterranean Sea have tightened their border control, sir. As such, we have over one million refugees waiting for their turn outside our borders.”
“Wow. The issues with food and medical supplies must be no laughing matter, then.”
“Dapsang has been supplying the majority of provisions consumed in the refugee camp, sir. But what’s funny in this situation is that none of the big food majors making a ton of money in Africa has sent us one bag of flour or even a grain of rice.” Ombuti gritted his teeth.
“You shouldn’t expect such things from parasites like them. Novatopia is the final haven for those people who are driven to a corner with no way out. Make sure to never go against our principles.”
“Yes, sir. It’ll go according to your will, Wakil.”
“Any issues with the country’s security?”
“Nothing of note, sir. These people have already experienced hell before joining us. They feel happy from the simple fact that their safety is guaranteed, and that they won’t go to bed starving in our land. We don’t have too many citizens causing trouble, and your three-strikes rule has done wonders to forcibly suppress potential crime, sir.”
“I’m sure that’s the case. A fool who still can’t wake up after tasting forced labor has no room for rehabilitation. We also have no need for those who feel different before and after the proverbial toilet break. Novatopia doesn’t have enough time nor leeway to mind the rights of criminals.”
“Well said, sir. We do not need trash in our midst. In Novatopia’s books, no one so far earned four stars .”
“How scarily strict!” Bonipas, who was listening in, pretended to shiver.
Novatopia’s laws were simple but stern. Criminals involved in the breach of national security, violent crimes, or other serious forms of crime were hit with sentences of forced labor and pecuniary punishments. No one was exempted from this rule.
A first-time offender would be trialed normally in a regular court proceeding to ascertain their guilt, then sentenced to forced labor and heavy fines. A repeat offender was sent straight to the forced labor camp regardless of the crime committed for the period of five years minimum to ten years maximum.
But the convict caught for the third time doing the same crime was given a choice between forced labor for life or banishment from the country. Choosing forced labor for life meant you would be planting Jatropha trees at the borders until you kicked the bucket. But choosing banishment meant you would be kicked out to the middle of the desert with enough food and water to last you two weeks or so. Either way, this was truly unforgiving punishment unthinkable in modern society, indeed.
What would the convict be thinking of when they had to choose between getting chased out to the desert of death or planting trees in the said desert for the rest of their life? And what about those watching on, how would they feel about this? This was the reason why Novatopia didn’t have criminals.
“Ombuti, are those fifteen idiots I sent to you last year still diligently planting trees?” Mu Ssang asked about the well-being of the Abe gang, which he had forgotten about until recently.
“They are under the special management of the security bureau, sir. Two of them have died from local diseases, while one took his own life. The remaining twelve are diligently planting Jatropha trees near the border to Ennedi.”
“Diligently, you say?”
“The noble and great Dubaiburupa has declared that those who don’t work will not get fed. As such, anyone who doesn’t meet their daily quota will starve,” Ombuti replied nonchalantly as if he was explaining that a desk had four legs.
“Wakil, don’t you think the lifelong forced labor is too inhumane? How about just executing them?” Bonipas tried to test the waters a bit.
Voices of concern regarding Novatopia’s harsh penal code were being raised in the international community. Human rights organizations were frothing at their mouths, claiming how evil this practice was. A rather troublesome situation for Novatopia that just started setting up its national framework.
“Novatopia is a nation that respects human rights by not performing executions. However, I firmly believe that the victim’s rights are a hundred times more important than that of a criminal’s. Besides, we’re short on manpower, so killing the potential workers is a bit of a waste, wouldn’t you say? Ombuti, form a separate management team and strictly monitor the forced laborers serving life terms to prevent them taking their own lives.”
“And thus Dubaiburupa has declared so!” Ombuti hurriedly pulled out a pocket notebook and jotted down what Mu Ssang said.
‘Holy cow, like master, like servant!’
Bonipas wordlessly shook his head. He brought up the topic only for the situation to become worse.
The man who was ready to spend his entire fortune for the sake of people he had never even met, yet who was also capable of slaughtering thousands without batting an eye — that was the invincible Eastern Swordsman. Without a doubt, he didn’t even give a rat’s ass whether the media yapped on about him or not.
“How far along are we with the formation of the Rapid Response Forces?”
“The formation of the armored and the heliborne battalions is already complete, sir. Meanwhile, an independent mounted battalion consisting of the Tuareg tribe warriors has also been established, and the sniper battalion is currently training in Corsica, sir. They are scheduled to return to Novatopia next month.”
“Chogori, were there any mountain guns included in the stored military equipment?”
“Of course there are some. We have a whole bunch of OTO Melara Model 56 105mm guns as well as GebG36 75mm guns taken from the Germans gathering dust in storage. And I was thinking of throwing away all those useless scrap metal taking up space in… Let’s say, in the middle of a desert.” Bonipas saw through the invincible Eastern Swordsman’s intentions and jumped the gun first.
A weapon’s striking power was certainly important, but its suitability with the terrain was even more crucial. An OTO Melara mountain gun was a howitzer with the maximum range of 11km, but it could also be improvised into a short-distance direct firing gun with a range of 300m by lowering its angle of elevation.
The era of mountain guns came to a close after the introduction of multi-purpose rocket launchers and missiles, but in the middle section of Sahara with its massive sand dunes, one could say that the mountain guns were the best-possible artillery to possess since their firing trajectory could be altered at will.
“Ombuti, what do you think about increasing the scale of the Tuareg’s mounted battalion into a regiment and arranging a mountain gun battalion with Chogori’s assistance?”
“It’s an excellent idea, Wakil. Two horses can pull along a 105mm gun, while one horse should be enough to pull a 75mm. Opening fire with forty guns lined up next to each other will surely produce a spectacular sight to behold, sir.” Ombuti’s complexion brightened.
A mounted regiment on horseback boasted excellent mobility and was also rather stealthy, but as a trade-off, its overall firepower was low. The kinetic energy of a 105mm high-explosive shell was around six million Joules, about thirty times that of an anti-personnel RPG warhead. That was more than enough to cover the weak point of the mounted troops.
As the discussion on official matters came to a close, Mu Ssang suddenly asked Bonipas a question. “Chogori, what is the intention behind Chairman Javer wanting to meet me?”
“Javer is a sly snake of a man. You can never tell what he’s scheming. He probably needs Wakil’s abilities to deal with a special matter.”
“My abilities, you say?”
“There are several areas on this planet that humans simply can’t approach. The DGSE declared over a dozen such locations as ‘mysterious’ by now. The jungles of Ituri is one such location. And it’s no wonder Chairman Javer is salivating at the prospect of hiring Wakil, who’s skilled enough to easily conquer such a jungle.”
“Oh! I’m kind of interested now.”
Mu Ssang was becoming intrigued about this. The Hollow Earth found under the ground was a fresh, shocking experience for him. Back then, he was ill-prepared for what went down. The thing was that Mu Ssang was not the kind of a man to say no to an adventure.
Bonipas shook his head. “I think there’s no value in meeting him. Javer is connected to the CIA. And there was that instance of the CIA lending Javer the’ keyhole’ for the purpose of geological prospect. We don’t know if it’s a simple business partnership or something more sinister, so being cautious wouldn’t be such a bad idea.”
“A CIA stooge, huh. Chogori, have the results of the analysis on the Haunter samples I gave you come out yet?”
Bonipas flinched a little at that sudden question. “My apologies, but the idiots at the National Research & Development Institute and Technical Design Division are stuck with that damn Haunter thing and can’t seem to make much headway. Other than some negligible success in analyzing the muscle and skeletal structure, it’ll be another ten years or maybe even more before we get a full analysis of that damn creature.
“It vexes me, but I must admit that there is a massive gap between the level of our technology and theirs.”
Bonipas came out and said it despite the humiliation he felt. Since they were one family now, he should not be hiding anything.
“It’s not possible for the level of the Americans’ technology to be that much advanced compared to the French. Either they acquired an ancient artifact that we’re not aware of, or they could have found a fragment of something with an extraterrestrial origin. I’m quite certain that the unknown connecting chain can be found in the Americans’ Socrates Project.”
“I agree with your assessment, Wakil. There must be a source for their sudden advancement in technology.”
“I ran into unimaginable monsters and unexpected people in the Ituri jungles. Yankees’ Chimeras, monsters created by Voodoo cult’s houngan, monstrous beasts with unknown origins like Dino, special forces teams from America and China and even the Voodoo cult’s soldiers trained in modern warfare, among a myriad of other things. None of this is what you’d call normal. I suspect the KGB and Japan, not China, as the backers of Kamuge.”
“That’s a totally plausible guess, Wakil. After you went on a rampage there, the Ituri jungles became the center of the international storm. The DGSE strengthened its HUMINT operations in the eastern parts of Congo, while the CIA is focusing on ‘planting’  operations.”
“No, that’s wrong. The way I see it, the real deal is hiding within Area 51. The folks at the CIA is nothing more than leaves meant to conceal the ongoings at Area 51. This Socrates Project isn’t some simple-minded plan to help the Americans snatch candy away from lots of babies.”
“Then what is it?”
“A pile of crap and doenjang might look similar and even have similar coloring, but they are not even remotely on the same level. I’ve already denoted the combat strengths of Haunter and Grendel in my report on the Operation Fist of Justice. There’s nothing more to add on that front, but do consider this: what will happen if a group of monsters on the level that not even I can easily triumph start rampaging in a densely populated area?”
“It’ll be Armageddon.” Bonipas shuddered.
If gigantic Chimeras like the Serpent, Turtle and Octopus went on a rampage in the center of Paris, then it would result in an indescribable calamity. Just imagining it alone gave him chills.
Mu Ssang continued on. “The Yanks are in the middle of manufacturing a variety of Chimeras. Two Chimeras I destroyed back in Ounianga Kébir were small-sized hybrids of anthropoids and reptiles. But the creatures I destroyed in Ituri were much larger in scale weighing in at several tons, designed from the onset as aquatic or amphibious in its operational range.”
“…A naval blockade?!”
Only then did Bonipas figure out the meaning of crap and doenjang having different levels. The act of butting in on a developing nation’s natural resources development to siphon out all the juicy profit, and the act of dominating the worldwide movements of goods and becoming the sole decider on the distribution of resources were not even remotely on the same scale. To put it simply, the entire world would become America’s vassal state.
Imagine a situation where giant aquatic monsters continuously attacked merchant ships and oil tankers heading to a specific country, like what the German U-boats did during WW2. That country would get squeezed to proverbial death.
Maybe it was nothing more than some unfounded worry. Nevertheless, such a thing meant America would transform from a thug to a Neo-Nazi nation. Not to forget, France was unfortunately not a resources-rich country.
“My home country, France, needs to kiss the Yankee’s butt to survive?” Bonipas felt a chill run down his spine.
“You must redirect the DGSE’s attention to Area 51. Find out what is the hidden goal of the Socrates Project. Discover its true scale and its headquarters. No matter how strong our opponents are, a way to defeat them will manifest itself as long as we pull the curtains back and reveal their identity.”
“Understood. Looks like I now have one more reason to protect my spinning chair.” Bonipas’s expression hardened.
The DGSE’s information division had submitted a similar report earlier, but it failed to gather much attention during the Nation Security Council conference. What with America still maintaining its Cold War attitude, the French couldn’t find enough of a reason to go on an ‘adventure’, so to speak.
Mu Ssang spoke up. “It’s not possible to hide your ice pick in your pocket forever. I’ve already laid out several traps. I covered the skies to cross the ocean, jumbled up existence and non-existence to confuse the enemies, forcing them to crawl out of their hiding place in anxiety. Then, like a cicada discarding its skin, I slipped myself out and hid within the darkness.”
“Truly amazing, sir. I’ve made an educated guess after receiving a report that you suddenly revealed your divinity in Novatopia, but to think that you have already…”
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Bonipas was genuinely impressed. His young boss was looking three, no, four steps ahead. Rather than having an overpowered combat power, the endless depth of a cunning mind made an existence even more frightening. Bonipas was unaware that the way he addressed Mu Ssang had subtly changed already.
“I knew that you’d correctly guess my intentions, Chogori. I may seem to be hiding, but I am not. I may seem to be crouching, but that’s how I shall attack.”
“Wakil, you must be careful. You’re alone and you also have another place to protect on the other side of the planet.”
 Stars: each star represent how many times a convict went to prison; four stars mean going to prison four times
 Plant: implanting a spy, a mole, in the target’s operational nerve center