Dysfunctional Family Reunion
Thomas Calabrese- Boris Badenov was considered one of the most dangerous men in the world. He grew up in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, until his conscription into the Soviet military at the age of 18. During his time in the Army, Boris studied Chinese, Farsi and Portuguese at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow and became an intelligence officer. The Soviet Union broke apart at the end of Badenov’s enlistment so he left the military and moved to Libya. He started a cargo company with the financial backing of Muammar Gaddafi, de facto leader of Libya and Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic. The fleet quickly grew to a fleet of 70 planes and with military supplies of former Soviet states leaking onto the black market, Badenov’s shipping empire began delivering guns to rebels, militants and terrorists around the world.
In the new era of privatization in Russia, arms traffickers used old Soviet-era social, military and business networks to develop shell companies to hide their transactions. Badenov brokered deals to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and militants in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria and cartels in Mexico. He would often sell to government forces and the rebels fighting them at the same time. It was always about the money with him and he seldom ever let his personal feelings interfere with business. Even the U.S. government and its contractors paid Badenov controlled firms roughly $90 million to fly supplies in support of American forces, describing him as a “linchpin” for American supply lines in Afghanistan. Eventually Badenov became the world’s most prolific arms dealer and American intelligence officials’ codenamed him the ‘Minister of Mayhem’ or the acronym ‘Mom’ for short.
Badenov also earned the nicknames of ‘Merchant of Death’, ‘Sanctions Buster’ and the Master of Disaster after British government minister Peter Fain read a report to the United Nations in 2003 on Badenov’s wide-reaching operations, extensive clientele, and willingness to bypass embargoes. In a U.S. sting operation, Badenov was arrested on 6 March 2008 in Thailand on terrorism charges by the Royal Thai Police in cooperation with American authorities and Interpol. The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric G. Johnson requested his extradition under the Extradition Act with Thailand, which was eventually mandated by the Thai High Court in August 2010. Badenov was accused of intending to sell arms to a U.S. DEA agent pretending to represent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Before he could be extradited to America, a group of heavily armed mercenaries attacked the American consulate where Badenov was being held and he was freed from captivity and disappeared into the wind. With his numerous connections, it wasn’t hard for him to find sanctuary somewhere in the world.
One of his favorite places to spend time was on a 350-foot heavily armed super yacht called The Supreme Leader. It was currently in the possession of Natasha Fatalli, supermodel and shrewd business entrepreneur. The Supreme Leader was equipped with a personal submarine that allowed Badenov to arrive and depart without being noticed.
In the business of international espionage, covert affairs and arms dealing, a man like Badenov could be working for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense while still being on the most wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol.
It was a convoluted system filled with backroom deals that often overlapped each other. In this particular situation Badenov went from being an ally of the United States to an adversary in a matter of a few months.
Danny ‘Dad’ Dadamo was a former Delta Force operative whose services were occasionally sub-contracted by the United States Marshals’ Fugitive Apprehension Division among other government agencies including the CIA and State Department. He stood six foot-five inches tall, had brown wavy hair, mesmerizing dark gray eyes, olive skin and chiseled good looks. He was charismatic and projected an image of cool elusiveness and a smoldering fire beneath the surface. His mother was French and his father was Italian and Danny had a suave, cosmopolitan and Mediterranean look about him and bore an uncanny resemblance to silent film star, Rudolph Valentino. He was often mistaken for an actor or a model when he was out in public. When people would approach him and say, “Are you somebody famous?” Danny would put them at ease with a friendly smile and respond, “I was just getting ready to ask you the same thing.”
Like Badenov, Dad spoke fluent French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. He naturally intrigued and captivated people’s interest and basically men wanted to be like him and women were attracted to him. If it wasn’t for his ethical code of conduct, Danny could have easily become a successful salesman or a very wealthy con man, but it wasn’t his style to take advantage of anyone.
James ‘Sonny’ Greyson, was a former Navy Seal and could have been the poster boy for what a Southern California surfer looked like; he was blonde, tan, blue-eyed, lean and athletic and gave the impression that he was more comfortable wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops then wearing a military uniform or a suit. He projected an image of an easy-going guy and Sonny purposely cultivated their impression.
Even though their physical appearances were very different, they had a lot more in common than was unlike about them. Both men were patriotic to their very core and were willing to defend their homeland with their lives. They were loyal and faithful friends and knew that they could always depend on each other no matter how bad the situation ever became. They had been tested by combat and life threatening situations and knew exactly what their capabilities and limitations were. Like like any good partnership, Dad and Sonny instinctively knew when to step in to help and when to back off and let the other handle things on his own. To put it simply, they were brothers, not by the shared blood of a common ancestor, but by the spilled blood of sacrifice. They developed a muscle memory by years of doing the right thing for so long that it became their natural default position. Dad and Sonny didn’t require acknowledgement or praise to validate their decisions and actions. They were their own harshest critics and when they made a mistake, they owned it.
The two men lived on a three acre estate off Sleepy Indian Road in Northern Oceanside. There were two small homes on the property with several underground bunkers that held their weapons and various hi tech equipment. The property was listed under an offshore shell company and was routinely transferred to other businesses on a regular basis to maintain another level of security. They were paid well for their services because they were worth it. Their fees were not taxed and were virtually untraceable because many times they were operating off the record. They invested extensively in commercial estate throughout the Southern California. To almost the entire world, Dad and Sonny were successful real estate investors.
Only a select few knew what their primary occupation was. In this group was their main point of contact, Alexandra Waverly, Director of United Network and Command Law Enforcement. She sent a text to both men informing them of an upcoming video conference call. Several hours later, they entered a secure bunker where a large screen was mounted on a wall. Dad and Sonny sat down in recliner chairs and waited for the screen to turn on. At exactly 1800 hours the call began. Alexandra Waverly was in her mid-forties and had been with U.N.C.L.E. since she left the Air Force where she served as a fighter pilot. She greeted the two men with polite professionalism, “Good evening, Mister Dadamo, Mister Greyson.”
“Good evening, Ms. Waverly,” Dad said.
“Good evening, Ms. Waverly, Sonny repeated.
Alexandra started off, “Does anybody want to guess what your next assignment is?”
Sonny sighed, “Please don’t tell us that it’s Mom.”
“We’ve been asked to bring Badenov in,” Mrs. Waverly responded.
Dad said, “How quickly things have changed.”
“We were working with him to get weapons to the Kurds a few years ago,” Sonny added, “He’s quickly gone from linchpin, vital to American military success in the Middle East to the most dangerous man in the world and a threat to global democracy. Perception is reality in the world of diplomacy.”
“That’s why you’ve been chosen, you have a history with him,” Alexandra reminded the two men.
Sonny nudged Dad and quipped, “You know that wherever Mom is, Twisted Sister won’t be far away.”
“Are you talking about Natasha Fatalli?” Alexandra asked.
“Yeah, the one and only. Dad left her crying in the rain,” Sonny smiled.
Dad immediately became defensive, “We were just casual associates with a common mission.”
“Is that what they call it?” Sonny smiled. “Romeo and Juliet had less combustion than you two.”
Dad sighed, “With all due respect, Ma’am, Sonny’s right about one thing, I got a conflict of interest on this one and should recuse myself.”
“Let me run the scenario by you and if you still want to turn it down then I’ll find another team. Is that fair enough?”
“More than fair,” Sonny replied.
“The Assali family was part of a Christian volunteer group operating a refugee relief camp on the Ukraine Poland border. Russian Special Forces overran the camp and took the family captive and are now saying they are American spies and are holding them hostage, “Alexandra said, “Obviously they know that the family are not agents, but they need to elevate their importance to increase their value for a hostage swap.”
“That’s not unusual,” Dad said.
“We do the same and often have,” Sonny added.
“The Kremlin originally wanted convicted assassin, Vadim Krasikov, but that deal was off the table,” Alexandra said.
Dad exhaled, “So the United States offered Badenov instead even though we don’t have him.”
“But if we can get him though, the United States will have some leverage,” Sonny said.
“You two are the best qualified for this mission. You know the target and you have the skills.” Alexandra said, “But like I said, if you don’t want to do it, I won’t push the issue.”
Dad looked over at Sonny, who nodded then said, “When do we leave?”
“There’s a jet fueled and ready to go at Carlsbad International Airport. Whatever Intel we have will be waiting for you on board,” Alexandra offered.
When the two men arrived at the airport, they were met with agency pilot, Celso Slater who informed the two operatives, “We’re ready when you are.”
“Our destination?” Sonny asked.
“Nice Cote d’Azur,” Celso replied.
“Monte Carlo.” Dad said.
The distance from Carlsbad, California to Monte Carlo is 6083 miles and the flight time was estimated to be 11 hours and twenty minutes. This gave the two agents plenty of time to review the files, rest and discuss their plan of action.
Sonny asked, “How do you want to do this?”
“I don’t know…as quickly as possible,” Dad answered as he stared out the window.
“I thought you liked Monte Carlo?”
“I do,” Dad said, “If we were doing this for pleasure, I’d have a different perspective.”
The Gulfstream G800 actually made the trip in 10 hours and 40 minutes. The two agents got their bags and entered a car for their ride to Hotel De Paris Monte-Carlo. While driving to the principality, they noticed the superyacht, The Supreme Leader docked offshore.
That evening, both agents entered the Casino de Monte Carlo. Sonny was the first to notice Natasha playing Baccarat and nudged Dad, “I’m going to take a look around, I’ll catch up with you later.”
Natasha was playing at the high stakes table at 25,000 Euros a hand. Dad walked over and asked, “Is this seat open?”
Natasha looked up and her cool demeanor vanished. She was like a giddy tongue-tied schoolgirl in the presence of Danny Dadamo and stammered, “Of course, be my guest.”
Natasha was so affected by Dad’s arrival that she lost the next three hands and did not even notice. Finally she said, “If you’re here, Sonny can’t be far away.” She scanned the casino and saw Sonny, who nodded in acknowledgement.
Dad cashed out and suggested, “Let’s take a walk.”
They got up from the table and went outside. Natasha’s four bodyguards were close behind and Sonny followed.
“I’d like to think that you came to see me, but I know that’s not the case,” Natasha smiled, “You’re the only man to ever break my heart.”
“That was never my intention, I played it straight with you from the beginning,” Dad said.
“Tell me the truth now, are you’re looking for Boris?” Natasha said.
Dad spoke honestly, “I am and if I was trying to be devious, I would not have taken this approach.”
“He already knows that you and Sonny are here,” Natasha said.
“Your bodyguards called him as soon as I sat down at the table in the casino,” Dad surmised. “I know that.”
Sonny walked up, “Hi Natasha, it’s been a while. I see that you’re still living the high life.”
“It’s great to see you again,” Natasha then added, “I have to do something to keep my mind occupied. If anybody has any suggestions on what I should do next, I’m listening. How about you, Dad…anything come to mind?”
Dad quickly changed the subject, “Can you set up a meeting with Mom?”
“Have dinner on the yacht tomorrow. If he wants to see you, he’ll be there,”
Dad responded, “I can’t ask for more than that.”
“Be at the dock at 6pm and I’ll send a boat for you,” Natasha gave Dad a passionate kiss, “Still got lips sweeter than honey.”
After Natasha walked off, Sonny commented, “From my vantage point, I’d say that she still hasn’t gotten over you and you still have feelings for her.”
“She’s with Mom now,” Dad said.
Sonny commented, “Until you say otherwise.”
While eating dinner in the opulent dining room of the yacht, Boris Badenov entered and sat down. He poured himself a glass of wine and asked, “Enjoying you meal?”
“Excellent as always,” Dad said.
“My compliments to the chef,” Sonny joked, “Do you think he’ll give me the recipes?”
Natasha reminisced, “It’s been a while since the dysfunctional family were all together, Dad, Mom Sonny and yours truly, Twisted Sister.”
“You want the Assali family back and I’m your best hope of making that happen.” Boris said, “I could have my men kill you right now and throw your bodies in the ocean and nobody would ever be the wiser. Did you ever think about that before you came out here?”
Sonny picked up his steak knife, “And I bet you never thought that I could leap across this fancy table before I die and stick this knife through your eye and deep into your brain.”
“Easy does it, boys, too much testosterone is bad for my digestion,” Natasha said.
Dad commented, “Don’t get upset, this is their way of catching up on old times.”
Later after dinner Dad and Sonny excused themselves to go on deck for a little privacy and made a call to U.N.C.L.E. Headquarters, “We’re ready to make the exchange.”
“That didn’t take long,” Alexandra responded.
“Things worked out better than we expected,” Dad said.
“I’ll notify the appropriate parties,” Alexandra disconnected the call.
Dad turned to Sonny, “Nothing to do now, but wait.”
The two men went below deck and Mom suggested, “You might as well stay the night. We’ve got plenty of room.’
Next morning, the crew prepared the high powered jet skis and Dad, Mom, Sonny and Natasha took them out for some high spirited water sports. After a couple hours of exhaustive exercise, they returned to the yacht for lunch. While on deck, Badenov turned to Danny and commented, “Natasha is not over you. All this other stuff is just a diversion to her.”
Before Dad could make a comment, his cellphone rang, he listened and responded “Got it.”
After he disconnected the call, Dad said, “Are you ready, Mom?”
“Let’s do it.” Badenov said.
The exchange location was set up for a field on the outskirts of Nice, France. At one end of the open space were a group of Russian officials and armed guards. On the other side were Dad, Mom and Sonny.
Sonny yelled across, “Let’s see the family!”
The Russians pulled the Assali family out of a van and a Russian called out, “Here they are, let’s see Badenov!”
Mom stepped out into the open so he could be seen by the Russians.
Dad called out, “Send the family and when they get halfway, we’ll let Badenov drive over.”
The Russians let the American family start walking. When they got halfway across the field Boris got into the driver’s seat of the SUV with the darkly tinted windows and started out.
Everything was going according to plan. The Assali family reached Dad and Sonny’s position and they were now safe and the SUV was moving slowly toward the Russians’ position. Suddenly two missiles hit the SUV and obliterated it.
When Dad and Sonny landed back at Carlsbad Airport, a group of State Department officials were waiting for them. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Brinton was visibly irate and lashed out at the two contractors, “What the hell happened? Your orders were to deliver Badenov to the Russians!”
“I thought the first priority was to get the Assali family back?” Sonny said, “That’s what we did.”
“You know what I mean!” Brinton said.
“No, I don’t know what you mean. Weren’t you the one who said that Badenov was a disgrace to humanity? Why do you care so much that he’s dead?” Dad asked.
Brinton stammered, “That’s not the point…we had an agreement and you broke it!”
“We didn’t kill him, we thought maybe you did,” Sonny shrugged.
Dad offered another answer, “Or it could have been the Russians.”
“That didn’t happen,” Brinton was adamant in his denial.
“You sound very assured of that fact…why is that?” Sonny added, “You seem more inclined to believe them than us.”
Brinton reminded the two men, “This isn’t over!” then stormed out.
Flashback-The SUV that was used in the exchange was equipped with a device that allowed it to be driven by remote control. When Badenov entered the vehicle, he inconspicuously climbed out the back window without being seen and laid flat in the tall grass. He had his men use Javelin missiles to destroy the SUV and give the impression that he was killed in the explosion.
When they were on the yacht, Badenov explained to Dad and Sonny that he had been contracted by Russians and American agents to deliver a massive amount of weapons to rebel forces fighting in the Central Africa Republic. Their unholy alliance included an equal division of valuable natural resources once the rebels took control of the government. Badenov knew what the negative repercussions for the region would be if the rebels working in alliance with Russians and American interests ever got control of the country. He reneged on the deal at the last moment and diverted the shipment to another location. Without the hi-tech weaponry the government forces were able to defeat the bloodthirsty rebels and retained control. Badenov added, “Backing out of the deal made me some very dangerous enemies at the Kremlin and in Washington so they kidnapped the Assali family. This is a big scam, Russia is not interested in Vadim Krasikov. If things work out like they plan, they’ll kill everyone to tie up all loose ends.”
Badenov was prepared for this inevitability so after his death was reported, he disappeared to a ten-acre heavily guarded compound located between the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil and the coast. With close to two billion dollars in cash and assets, Badenov had more than enough capital to sustain him through a lavish retirement. The yacht remained under Natasha’s control and stayed anchored in Monte Carlo. Badenov meticulously protected his secrecy while still staying aware of world events. When he received information from his extensive web of contacts that might be of interest to Dad and Sonny, he did not hesitate to share it.
What about Natasha? She was in the mood for a lifestyle change. From Monte Carlo to Oceanside, that was a big geographical change, but not that much of an adjustment because she was exactly where she wanted to be…with Dad.
She was sleeping when Dad opened the bedroom door and asked, “Breakfast is ready if you’re hungry.”
“What time is it?” Natasha asked.
“Zero six hundred.”
“I haven’t been up this early in years,” Natasha yawned.
“Regrets?” Dad asked.
“Not a one, I’ll be up in one minute,” Natasha flashed a smile.
Sonny was making omelets at the stove, “Is she coming?”
“She’s on her way,” Dad answered.
Their cellphones rang at the same time and both men knew who it was. Badenov said, “Good morning, I know that you both are early risers. How’s Natasha doing?”
“We’re taking it day by day,” Dad said.
“She’s better off with you than she was with me. I gave her everything she wanted, I just couldn’t give her what she needed,” Badenov said.
“Not to change the subject, but did you call to pass the time or is there something else on your mind?” Sonny asked.
“Thanks for reminding me, there is something going on down here that you’ll definitely be interested in. It’s time for some serious payback, c’mon down and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Natasha entered and heard Badenov’s voice on the speaker phone. Danny asked, “Feel like taking a trip? It’s time for another dysfunctional family reunion.”
Natasha smiled in anticipation, “Dad, Mom, Sonny and yours truly, Twisted Sister, I’m ready when you are.”
To most of the world he was the sinister Minister of Mayhem, but to others he was just called Mom. Badenov was ruthless because he had to be in order to survive in the arms dealing business. As bad as he was, Badenov still had a long way to go to reach the level of criminal misconduct and evilness that many miscreants in positions of authority in the United States and Russia routinely operated at. He knew that if the situation warranted it, he would begrudgingly kill Dad and Sonny and they would do the same to him, so it was ironic and even humorous that Badenov still liked having these American warriors in his life. Why, because when they were together, they never pretended to be anything but what they were. Danny ‘Dad’ Dadamo and James ‘Sonny’ Greyson were also the only two men that Mom ever truly feared, respected and trusted, all at the same time.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County invites all writers to join us at our monthly meetings. Veterans and Non-Veterans are equally welcome For more information go to our website: www.veteranswritinggroup.org
Yes! Bad versus Evil…even better than USMC! And of course we must have a Femme Fatale. I’ve no doubts that we use the bad guys to do our dirty work…a convenient way to get rid of unwanted scum. We can only hope that one day they get their just desserts!
Boris turned out to be more like Dudley Doright than could be imagined
story is in line with current events,
a lot of twist and turns in this one, not sure I stayed on tract, but I liked it
Dad and Sonny, very similar to the Napolean Solo and Illa Kuryakin Team
Good use of bad people doing good. I enjoyed your short story.
I’m been reading about Victor Bout the arms dealer, I like this version
Mr. Calabrese has a real talent for writing short stories on every level and topic. I was enjoy all his stories but the Westerns and those with Intrigue are at the top of my reading list. Some of the uniqueness is his ability to take the reader along on the twists and turns of the the story and along the way I get involved wanting to assist the good guys or gals. Thank you for the Sunday Vista Press stories, and the suspense you provide. Your mind must be working in overdrive.
Liked it. Like a Bond story.
Another good read, Tom. I always like the way you tie current events to north county.
Excellent story Tom! Lots of excitement.