Captain Koïnsky must persevere on his mission to reach Djibouti and then Harar. This time the trip begins in a jeep with the French lieutenant De La Motte. Theirs is a strange journey; the intense colors of the desert gradually fade, and after having passed a ridiculous, miniscule tank that tries to incinerate them with its flamethrower, the two officers arrive within sight of the sea. The reflection of the moon on the water will lead the Frenchman to melancholy recollections of Adrienne, a woman he loved very much. But the same woman is present in the memories of other soldiers: a Somali is enamoured of her, and she is the first great love of the Italian commander Fanfulla. Fanfulla is truly a special character: in appearance violent, in reality sentimental. He is a mournful and fatalistic man who, having contracted leprosy, is still attempting to achieve something worthwhile; meanwhile, time is slipping away from him.
As in a dream, the real exchange between the three officers takes place in the presence of three perfect glasses of well-chilled Martini, topped off with a twist of lemon. But the calm cannot last; Koïnsky will continue his southward journey in solitude, and the Italian flag of the fort will remain at half-mast