Chapter 1287: Things Left Behind
Schmidt was an ordinary oil and gas field engineer who was sent to Mogadishu because of a 30 billion oil and gas development agreement between ExxonMobil and the Somali authorities.
Even though he had made preparations before coming here, the level of poverty here exceeded his expectations.
He once saw in travel magazines, that before the Civil War, this place was called the white pearl of the Indian Ocean.
But now, the historic buildings had broken walls, with clearly visible bullet holes in the walls. Most of the roads were broken, and there was almost no greenery in the entire city. Sand was everywhere.
It wasn’t just the environment that was criticized.
Because of the local culture, there were no bars here, and casual drinking was punished by caning.
Even though their executives tried to help them get the privilege of drinking without being whipped, this privilege was limited to inside the staff dormitory. The variety and quantity of supplies were quite limited, making it difficult to have a good time.
For the employees who were dispatched here, the only entertainment here was to buy and read the latest newspaper or sit in a coffee shop near the company’s premises and experience the air-conditioning and coffee that the locals couldn’t afford. They spent their afternoons drinking specialty filtered coffee.
It didn’t matter what the newspaper was.
Whether it was BBC or Playboy, as long as there were words and pictures, it was enough. Life here was too boring.
Like usual, Schmidt came to the coffee shop, ordered a cup of Ethiopian coffee that he planned to sip on for an afternoon, and sat in a safe place far from the window.
He was about to start his newspaper reading and kill some time, but he was suddenly stunned.
[El Wak victory! The Somali Army Won!]
What the hell?!
Is this an April Fool’s joke?
No way, it’s not even April.
The moment Schmidt saw the headline in the newspaper, his first reaction was that it must be a mistake.
He knew the combat effectiveness of the Somali army. Even after receiving training from various countries, their fighting style was still quite barbaric. They might as well be carrying knives instead of rifles.
In contrast, the enemies they faced were the pirates that had caused headaches for governments all over the world. These devils had lurked the earth for more than a decade.
Even if the US sent 10 fighter jets over, they might not be able to completely wipe them out, let alone the Somali Army, who barely had a few tanks.
He had a feeling of disbelief. He continued to read the newspaper. His sight was immediately glued to the picture of the newspaper.
Technically, they were four sets of pictures.
Two of them were of a “black coffin” that had a parachute tied to it, which were probably taken by some kind of professional distance shooting equipment.
The other two photos were distant shots of the drones flying out of the black coffin and the smoke from a destroyed ammunition warehouse.
The moment Schmidt saw this equipment, he was sure that the Somali authorities must have received foreign aid.
Most of the people in East Africa had never even seen a drone. Even the US military had not deployed this kind of high-tech UAV equipment on a large scale.
Sure enough, when he continued to read, he quickly found the answer.
“With support from the Chinese, the Somali army launched its largest offensive this year in the El Wak area occupied by militants. Hundreds of bombs were dropped on the battlefield, destroying a dozen ammunition warehouses.
“Our reporter was told that the small drones were controlled by AI, and they automatically recognized the identities of the militants before launching attacks on them. These drones are similar to the logistics delivery drones, but it is still uncertain whether they are from the same company…
“So far, the battlefield has shifted from open areas to the streets. Many militant leaders have been killed. According to a spokesperson for the Somali authorities, the armed forces active in the area have been unable to maintain control of the area, and the Somali army is recovering the villages and towns controlled by militants. This chaos is expected to continue until the end of the year. We remind foreign employees working in the local area to pay attention to travel safety.
“In addition, our reporter consulted the US military bases in Ethiopia and asked about the airstrikes. However, the person in charge of the military base did not disclose the type of aircraft involved in the airstrikes or where the airstrikes came from. They refused to give more details…
The Americans are actually helping China keep it a secret?
Are pigs flying?
Schmidt would never believe that those American troops would keep a secret about the weapons that launched airstrikes for the Chinese. If they knew, they would tell the whole world.
Therefore, there was only one possibility…
Which was, so far, they had not found enough evidence to prove who initiated the airstrikes and where it came from.
The look on his face gradually changed from suspicion to disbelief. He heard other foreign employees talking behind him.
Coincidentally, they were discussing the same thing.
“Did you read the news yesterday? Somalia’s army actually won?!”
“Of course I did! Everyone is discussing this on Twitter! People say that China used some kind of powerful secret weapon. I heard from our resident bodyguard that his nephew, who was in that battle, said they were prepared to fight the militants to death. But before they could do anything, the militants were all dead.”
The man with a beard on his face spoke in an exaggerated manner, as if he were in the battle himself.
“You guys don’t want to see the scene… It’s like hell on Earth.”
“What do you think the secret weapon might be?”
“I don’t know, but everyone says it’s an orbital weapon… A jet or bomber can’t fly this high, and it is impossible to hide from the US military base radar!”
Schmidt heard the discussion from several foreign employees behind him. He went into silence, and it took a while before he spoke.
“This is insane…”
Avoiding the US radar completely?
This is ridiculous!
The Somalia government might as well have received help from aliens!
After reading the newspaper in his hand, Schmidt saw that it was getting late. He drank the last bit of coffee in his cup, threw a dollar tip to the waiter, and got up from his seat.
There were cheers and celebrations everywhere on the street. Local people gathered in groups, celebrating and welcoming something.
For this lifeless city, this scene was unreal.
Even though Schmidt was curious about what was being celebrated, he didn’t dare to ask the locals. His skin color was too different, and he might be targeted by the locals…
Over the next few days, strange things happened one after another.
First, a Chinese construction company moved in next door, and this was followed by an oil company and an import and export trading company…
Later on, more and more Chinese faces appeared, so did supermarkets, clothing stores, and even bars were slowly opening.
This made Schmidt extremely envious.
Their executives had tried to bribe the local officials, to see if they could open an American bar to entertain their employees. The officials agreed and collected the money. But when they were ready to open, the local officials turned on their agreement.
He didn’t know how the Chinese were able to bribe the local officials.
Interestingly enough, the Chinese employees weren’t as interested in the bars. Most of the customers were American and European employees who worked for Shell and ExxonMobil.
This, of course, also included Schmidt himself.
He just wanted to get drunk.
However, something happened that irritated Schmidt. One day, he suddenly discovered that the drinks sold to them by the Chinese were twice as expensive as the price sold to their own employees.
When he questioned the bartender, the only answer he got was “exchange rate reasons”; there was no additional explanation.
This is a scam!
Although Schmidt was furious, he couldn’t do anything.
After all, this was the only bar in town.
Thanks to the Chinese guys, at least he had some fun in his life. He no longer had to drink coffee and read newspapers like an old man.
Over the next week, the situation became even more interesting.
There were more and more Chinese faces on the streets. There was even a Chinatown.
Later on, Schmidt heard from several British oil workers that the Chinese construction companies were preparing to send an engineering team to the El Wak area, to rebuild the city recovered by the Somalia army.
Schmidt was certain that the Somali authorities must have reached some kind of agreement with the Chinese side and exported the reconstruction work to the Chinese.
But there was one thing Schmidt didn’t understand…
What was valuable in El Wak?
There was nothing but cacti and camels.
Also, keeping Somalia as an undeveloped country meant the world would have a place to sell their unwanted military equipment.
Yesterday, while drinking in the bar, he heard a familiar arms broker complaining that the Chinese construction workers had taken their jobs. And that Lockheed Martin reduced their remuneration. Now, they had to abandon the “market” that they worked hard to develop and head to the more dangerous Central African region.
Their eyes flashed with excitement, like a 16th-century navigator.
Apparently, in Central Africa, there was a food crisis, as well as constant wars between tribes and warlords.
Even though they were not as “rich” as the pirates in Somalia, there were untapped diamond mines, gold mines, and oil mines. Every inch of land there was full of the smell of money.
Before the Chinese could open up the market there, they could take advantage of the chaos there and make a fortune.
After some drinking, the arms broker fell asleep.
Schmidt didn’t disturb his dreams. He drank and thought about his own problems.
More and more things were making him puzzled.
He vaguely felt that huge changes were coming.
He couldn’t describe this feeling. He just felt that this change seemed to have started a long time ago and only recently started to surface.
For example, being able to sit here and drink.
Or for example, being able to stay outside the dormitory until ten o’clock at night… The local military and police were stationed here in order to protect the Chinese. In the past, they would occasionally encounter robbers. But there were almost no locals nearby.
However, this made sense.
After all, for a small figure like him, there must be many things behind the scenes that he didn’t know about…