Thomas Calabrese –Anthony Santino was enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) at the University of California, San Diego when he met Janet Novak in the pre-med program. After graduation, Tony attended medical school while Janet obtained a biomedical science degree and went to work as a research scientist.
After finishing his education and residency in orthopedics, Tony was commissioned a naval officer. During their years of schooling, the two overachievers dated consistently and even after Tony was in the Navy, they saw each other whenever possible. It became obvious that they were too much in love to stop seeing each other despite the numerous obstacles placed before them.
Tony proposed and Janet accepted. They were married in a ceremony at Grand Tradition Estate & Gardens in Fallbrook, California. Tony was an orthopedic surgeon at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital at the time.
Their son Nicolas was born four years later. Tony served three overseas deployments, one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. He was also stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Balboa Naval Hospital and served assignments on the hospital ships, USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, once during an earthquake in Mexico and another time when a rare massive hurricane came across the Tropic of Capricorn and directly struck Rio de Janeiro, which lies on a strip of Brazil’s Atlantic coast.
During the same period, Janet specialized in viral and bacterial infection research. She soon became very suspicious of China’s manipulation and undue influence of the World Health Organization. The Communist regime’s devious behavior concerning biological weapons had become routine and nobody was holding them accountable. This was very disconcerting to Janet, whose research of the genome sequencing of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus determined that it was developed in a lab and not transmitted by monkeys, as stated by the Chinese Communist Party. (CCP)
When Janet Santino published her findings in a medical journal, the pushback was quick and extensive. China controlled various aspects of the media and medical publications, including many in America, so putting out a completely false narrative to discredit her was not that difficult. When the leadership of Janet’s company, PhiPharma pressured her to retract her findings, she adamantly refused and tendered her resignation.
As the years passed, the Santino family decided to make Southern California their permanent home and planned accordingly. They bought a home and two acres of property in the Morro Hills area of North Oceanside. Since she was no longer employed full-time, Janet eagerly took over the renovation of the large ranch-style house, and not one detail was overlooked. She used the same analytical skills that she implemented in the laboratory to make the sure that the work was done properly.
Nick Santino was a freshman at El Camino High School when his father reached his full twenty years as an active duty Navy doctor. He decided to transfer to the Naval Reserve at this point in his career. He joined the Tri-County Orthopedic Group and partnered with other two surgeons, who had also served in the Navy, Tony met them during the early stages of his military career.
Janet enjoyed the flexibility that being an independent consultant provided her. She soon developed a reputation as a thorough and professional expert. Her expertise now included toxicology as well as infectious diseases and she worked with coroners and lawyers from around the country. She had a special laboratory constructed behind the main house.
Nick inherited intelligence, dedication, loyalty and a steadfast belief in doing the right thing. While growing up, his parents exposed him to a variety of different activities, sports, martial arts and music. Nick had a creative streak and was much more spontaneous then either of them.
Tony was speaking to his son one evening and gave him some fatherly guidance, “Wisdom is the combination of intelligence and common sense and restraint is the combination of strategy and patience. Don’t ever forget that.”
“I won’t,” Nick promised.
Janet used her extensive expertise of biochemistry to keep the family at optimal health. She took blood tests and did DNA nutritional analysis to create specific diets for each of them. This maximized mental acuity, dramatically increased energy, and strengthened their immune systems.
As Nick became more involved in sports and academics, he became keenly aware of the distinct difference in his performance level on the playing field and in the classroom when he followed his mother’s recommendations compared to when he went ate fast food or other items that weren’t on his list. Nick questioned his mother about strict adherence to his health regime.
Janet explained, “I’ve given you the benefit of my experience, it is up if you wish to use it. You’ve learned by now that it’s easier to do the wrong thing than the right one. People that are willing to sacrifices in order to accomplish what they want are more successful than those who won’t. As a scientist, I look for evidence to support my conclusions. Let me give you an example, I had a friend when I was growing up, her name was Cathy, she would routinely make foolish decisions about boys, drugs, alcohol, school and just about anything else you can think of. She’d shrug and say; I’m young, I’m supposed to have a good time and make mistakes. I replied, fun is the by-product of doing something what you like and making mistakes should never be something that you ever start out to do. A mistake should not define who you are, but rather be a minor delay, a slight detour, a red flag, a warning siren that reminds you to get back on your original path”
Nick asked, “What happened to your friend?”
“Time finally caught up with her. She kept repeating her mistakes until she made finally made one that she couldn’t repeat…. she overdosed.” Janet explained.
“Sorry to hear that,” Nick responded.
Janet added, “One other thing, making mistakes is part of growing up, and not limited to the youth. I still make mistakes, but I’m under the same rules as you, I deal with the consequences and move on.”
Tony’s private medical practice was very successful. His specialty was wrist surgery; trigger- finger release, carpal tunnel syndrome, fracture management. Dupuytren’s Contracture Release, and Wrist Arthroscopy. His partners handled the bigger joints, hips, knees, and shoulders.
The former military doctor developed close and lasting friendships with special operators when he was in the Navy. These individuals were always pushing their bodies to the limit. When they got injured or wounded, they could be assured that Doctor Anthony Santino would do his best to repair the damage and get them back to their units.
Even after leaving active duty, Tony’s loyalties did not change. Some current and former elite warriors would still come to see him when they needed excellent medical treatment. Despite his busy schedule, Tony instructed his staff to always make time for his fellow veterans.
Nick had natural physical ability when he came to sports, but what elevated him above his piers was his keen and almost spontaneous grasp of the situation. As the quarterback of the El Camino High School team, he could go through his designated progression of every pass play quicker than any other signal-caller that Coach Darrell McCall had ever seen in his forty years of high school and college sports, “Nothing rattles that kid. Mentally, it’s like he’s playing at a different speed.”
In baseball, Nick was a pitcher and brought that same mindset. He knew every batter’s tendencies and weaknesses before taking the mound. He’d move the ball up and down, in and out, and change speeds at the appropriate time. He made it impossible for a batter to expect a certain pitch or get comfortable at the plate.
When Nick reached his senior year in high school, he came to his parents with thoughts about possibly joining the military. His father was proud of his son’s patriotism, but had become disillusioned with the current administration and the politicization of the higher ranks of the Armed Services. Tony told his son, “I have a friend that I’d like to meet before you make a decisions.”
Master Chief Jocko Conroy spent 23 years as a Navy Seal before becoming a civilian contactor and starting a training academy in Imperial Beach to help young men prepare for military service, mainly special operations.
Tony and Nick drove down from Oceanside to the warehouse on Silvas Street in Imperial Beach.
Jocko burst out with a hearty greeting when he saw them enter the building, “Hey Doc!”
About two dozen young men were doing a variety of physical activities; rope climbing, obstacle course, martial arts, and calisthenics. Nick watched them with great interest.
When Jocko approached, Tony extended his hand, “Good to see you…you’re looking well.”
“Like we say, the only easy day was yesterday,” Jocko responded and looked at Nick, “So this is your son?”
Tony introduced his son, “Nick, I want you to meet Jocko Conroy, one of the toughest and most patriotic men that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”
“It is an honor to meet you, sir,” Nick said.
Jocko smiled, “I owe your father my life.”
“In a way I guess I owe him mine too,” Nick quipped.
Jocko looked the boy up and down, “Your dad said that you’ve been thinking about applying to be a special operator. I have a four-week course that I can put you through. And the end of that time, you’ll know two things for sure; one, if you still want to join…and two, if you’re qualified to make it. When you finish high school, give me a call.”
Nick replied, “I’ll do that! Thank you, Master Chief.”
Tony turned to his son, “Would you wait for me at the car, I want to speak with Jocko.”
Nick nodded and walked off. When he was out of earshot, Tony said, “I appreciate this.”
“How do you want me to do this?” Jocko asked.
Tony said, “My son is a very dedicated and focused young man. Give him your best shot and see if he’s up to the task.”
After graduation, Nick contacted Jocko Conroy, “I’m out of school and I’m ready to proceed ahead if it’s still alright?”
Jocko had Nick stay in a makeshift dormitory in the back of the warehouse with three other young men who were also interested in joining Special Forces. That first night was their only full night’s sleep, but after that, it was non-stop with miles of running, swimming and hours of strenuous exercise.
Jocko’s staff included former Seals, Delta Force and Air Force Pararescuemen. Another part of his business was preparing college football players for the NFL Scouting Combine. That training was handled by coaches and strength trainers. A staff nutritionist developed specific diets for the participants of both programs. A local catering company was responsible for preparing the meals that were delivered three times a day.
The cost for the Special Operation Military course was 2,000 dollars per week, including room and board. The cost of the NFL combine program was $7500 per week. Most of the athletes stayed at a Marriott’s Residence Inn down the street. In many cases their agents paid for everything and would be reimbursed after contracts were signed. For individuals who just wanted to get in shape before joining the military, there was a 25-dollar daily charge to use the equipment.
When he had a little free time after lunch, Nick walked over to the section of the warehouse where quarterbacks were throwing passes to receivers. He watched for a little while, then asked one of the coaches, “May I throw a few?”
The coach growled, “This is business, we don’t have time.”
Nick turned to walk away, but when the coach looked to the left, he saw Jocko nod his head. He called to Nick, “Yeah, you can throw a few.”
Nick got in line behind a college quarterback, and when his turn came, he executed the short throws with touch, the mid-range ones with zip, and the long ones with strength.
When Nick finished, the coach smiled approvingly, “You’ve got some real skills”
Nick shrugged, “I played a little in high school.”
“What’s your name?” The coach asked.
Jocko yelled, “If you’re through playing around, we’re waiting!”
Two hellacious weeks into the course and the other three applicants figured that they had enough and dropped out, leaving just Nick to continue.
Jocko turned to one of his instructors as he watched Nick tread water in a tank with a 50-pound weight, “Let push him harder.”
Tim Whittingham responded in disbelief, “We’re pushing him to the limit as it is.”
“I want to know where that limit is.”
Nick was subjected to extreme physical and mental obstacles for the sole purpose of breaking him. Even when he failed, he refused to give up. By the time the four-week course was completed, Nick had earned the respect and admiration of Jocko Webb, a decorated combat veteran.
Tony had not seen or communicated with his son during the entire four-week course. As he drove down from Oceanside on a quiet Sunday morning, he began to realize how eager he was to see Nick. Tony tried not to show his shock and surprise when he entered Jocko’s office and saw his son looking gaunt and exhausted in a chair. He stammered, “It’s good to see you…how are you doing?”
Nick flashed a smile, “Not bad…how ‘bout you?”
Tony answered, “About the same as always.”
Jocko suggested, “Have a seat, Doc and I’ll give you my detailed assessment.”
Tony pulled up a chair next to his son and Jocko began to speak, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news…what do you want first?”
Tony replied, “Let’s go with the good.”
“Nick is the finest applicant that has ever come through this course. You deserve a lot of credit for the kind of man that he has become.”
“I might take a little, but Nick has always been his own man,” Tony said.
Jocko continued, “Physically adept, mentally sharp and emotionally unbreakable. I’d be honored and confident to go downrange or face any adversary with Nick in my team. That is saying a lot, considering the list of Spartan warriors that I have had the pleasure to serve with. He is entirely qualified and immensely capable to face anything that the military could throw at him. On a more personal level, if I had a son, I would wish him to be like Nick.”
Nick responded to the compliment with his customary humility, “Thank you, Master Chief.”
Tony questioned, “And the bad news?”
“In over a quarter century of being in Special Ops or training people, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a leadership vacuum this bad at the highest levels of our military and politics. There are individuals in leadership positions even as we speak, that are as trustworthy as a rattlesnake with bipolar and more incompetent than a blind one-armed juggler. The Commander-in-Grief can’t speak without a teleprompter or an index card. They cut his microphone off whenever they think he might say something spontaneous. He looks at his watch like he’s got somewhere better to go when our fallen Marines arrived at Dover Air Force Base.”
“You’re preaching to the choir,” Tony said.
Jocko continued, “When you and I were on active duty, we still had to deal with bureaucrats. The government was sometimes an obstacle, even a necessary evil, but now it’s become a prevailing malevolence. If you would have told me that our country would leave American citizens behind, I would not have been able to comprehend that. The Department of Defense, State, FBI, NSA, CIA, all have been corrupted to various degrees.”
“Are you suggesting that I don’t join?” Nick asked.
Jocko answered, “Go ahead and join, but get a job as a clerk with the Air Force. Do your eight hour shift and go back to the barracks and play video games. But if you go into Special Ops you won’t have any idea where you are going at any given time. America abandoned its warriors at Benghazi and abandoned them at Kabul. You could go a secret mission and disappear without a trace. There are cold-blooded killers in our government and to them you’re nothing more than collateral damage.”
Tony sighed, “I don’t you remember you being this cynical.”
“A combination of getting older and too losing too many good friends and teammates. Years ago the term that was used when our government screwed up was friendly fire, now I call it stone-cold treason!”
Nick stood up to leave, “You’ve given me a lot to think about…that’s for sure.”
Jocko said, “Don’t leave just yet. What I’m going to tell you is something that cannot leave this room. I need your words on that.”
Tony answered, “You got it.”
“Mine too,” Nick said.
Jocko explained, “There is a secret organization comprised of former Special Operators funded by wealthy patriotic private donors. Its sole purpose is to protect America from its enemies. They have no connections to the military industrial complex, which means the mission always takes precedence over politics and money. The members are all seasoned combat veterans with years of experience. They might make an exception and consider accepting a newcomer with the proper recommendation.”
Tony was obviously apprehensive, “I don’t know about this, Nick is only 18 years old.”
“You’re absolutely right…he’s too young. Did you know that the average age of the military serving in the Vietnam War was 19 years-old? Like I suggested, join the Air Force, get a regular job and forget about this.”
Nick addressed the suggestion with conviction and clarity, “Thomas Jefferson told Charles Yancey, if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. I choose not to be ignorant and I want to be free. My parents have always emphasized that the easy and safe way isn’t always the right one.”
Jocko looked over at Tony, “Like I said, you’ve got a very unusual son.”
“I know,” Tony sighed in resignation because he felt deep in soul that his son had chosen an extremely dangerous path in quest of the greater good…and all he could do was support his decision.
Three days later, Jocko and Nick drove to Pine Valley, California. There was a 500- acre parcel of land with two dozen construction trailers, ten Conex storage containers and twenty-five motor homes of various sizes. There was also a landing strip, three hangars, and six planes that included two jets.
Jocko parked and both men got out. They were met by four stern looking individuals, all wearing sunglasses and having beards of various lengths. Jocko nodded and one of the men said to Nick, “Follow me.”
The next chapter in Nick’s life officially began. He started his apprenticeship under the guidance of some of the best fighting men in the world. In the classroom or on in the field, Nick was a quick learner. Six months later, he was accepted as a full-fledged member.
His first assignment came in the country of Mali on the continent of Africa. Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi and his group of Jihadists had been terrorizing the region for several years. He was responsible for overseeing attacks on U.S. troops, French aid worker and approximately 3,000 civilians.
The team went over their assignments and Nick volunteered, “I’ll do it.”
While the team secured a perimeter around the village, Nick made his way into the village. He eliminated three of al-Sahrawi personal bodyguards outside the building before entering through a window. He choked the terrorist leader to death without awakening the woman lying next to him. He returned to his team before the other jihadists even knew what had happened.
The missions varied over the few years. On one particular assignment, the team traveled to the South China Sea where a group of corrupt American politicians were secretly meeting with Communist Chinese Party officials on a yacht. Nick and several members of the team swam three miles from their boat and climbed onboard the yacht. They used syringes to inject slow- acting and deadly poison through the corks of the wine and champagne bottles before making their escape.
Nick could go from deadly to debonair in a heartbeat. He was wearing a finely tailored Armani tuxedo and was one of the guests at Met Gala in New York City where an individual ticket cost 30,000 dollars and a table is 275,000. Nick spoke several languages fluently and he made sure that he could converse like an expert about fashion, art, and entertainment before he even set foot through the door. His mission was to use the high tech cloning software on his cellphone to obtain information from a money launderer’s communication devices.
While speaking Italian with some designers from Milan, Nick noticed his target moving through the crowd. Right about that time a young Congresswoman entered the ballroom wearing a white ball gown. In bold red print on the fabric were the words, Tax the Rich.
The money launderer approached her and commented with a sly grin, “You’re not going to tax me…are you?”
“That depends on much you give to my campaign,” The Congresswoman giggled and hugged the criminal, “Remember elections have consequences.”
Nick got close enough to clone both their phones. When the young Congresswoman looked at him suspiciously, Nick raised his right fist, “Power to the people and pass the caviar!”
The team later used the information that Nick obtained to access both individuals’ illegal bank accounts and empty them.
Nick Santino was a Human Variant and the Global Deep State was his morally compromised target. He could mutate into any number of things to attack them and a vaccine of ignorance, incompetency and treason was powerless against this patriotic pandemic of wisdom and restraint.
– Work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance