Continued from Agent Hulo (Part II).
Valerio’s introduction to his father’s work was sudden and stressful for the boy. Nobody believed him when he said that Alvares was his father. Everyone treated him as though he was just a silly child. They pitied him and coddled him, and he hated it. With every shred of his youthful energy, he hated it. Finally, he walked up to a woman with the name ‘Rodrigues‘ on her coat.
“You! Tell me about why nobody believes I’m really Alvares’s son!” He puffed his cheeks out, ready for her to turn and laugh at him.
Through sheer chance, he chose the first person to hear the lie about his death. She whirled to meet the boy’s gaze and stared, then began to cry. “He said you were dead… Dead ” she pulled the boy close and began to sob. “You look just like your mother.” She trailed off, and her eyes widened in horror. She quickly pushed herself away from him. “No, no. This is just another hallucination.” She began to laugh and walk away.
Aunt Mia arrived quickly and looked down at Valerio. “What happened?”
“I asked her why nobody belives I’m Papa’s son.” He frowned. “She’s crazy.”
“She is, Vallie. Don’t talk to her. She might hurt you.”
The boy looked down and sighed. “Did Papa really say I was dead? Is that why everyone laughs? That was mean!”
Mia stroked the boy’s hair. “I know it was, but he was scared that you would be hurt.” She placed a hand on his back and led him to his father’s office, where she led the boy to the large chair behind the desk. “Sit down.” She urged in her usual gentle voice. “I’m going to tell you the story about how you were born.”
Valerio scowled. “You already did. You said my mom died giving birth to me because she was sick.”
“That’s true, but there’s more.”
The boy became alert and leaned forward. “Tell me.” He gripped the arms of the chair and leaned forward until his legs curled under the chair to counter-balance his weight. “Come on, tell me, please!”
The woman laughed. “To begin, your dad ran this agency for several years. He was very worried about a lot of things. Your mother became pregnant, but knew that she probably wouldn’t survive childbirth. Despite this, she went ahead and bore you to full term.” She took a deep breath. “At some point, a terrorist group called the Ku Ton began to infiltrate the Specialized Internal Bureau of Defense, and the day you were born, they heard about your mother going into labor, and they killed everyone from the medical team assigned to the delivery. By doing this, they killed your mother. To protect you, your father told everyone you were dead, so that the Ku Ton couldn’t find you and kill you.”
For a long time, the boy was quiet as dainty Mia waited to see how he would respond.
Finally, Valerio spoke. “So, Papa wanted to keep me safe?” Mia nodded. “I guess that makes sense, since he was a secret agent.” He groaned. “Why didn’t Papa tell me anything, though? I can keep secrets!”
Mia smiled. “He didn’t want you to be able to tell anyone if people gave you weird drugs. If only a few people knew, the Ku Ton or others couldn’t find out as easily.”
Valerio grumbled unhappily. “I don’t like that.”
“I know.” She rustled his hair.
Valerio leaned back and groaned. “Aunt Mia, what happened to Papa? Are you sure he’s dead?” The boy blinked rapidly to avoid crying. “Is Papa ok?” His voice caught in his throat.
Mia slowly stood. “He died. Someone shot him when they drove by.”
The boy began to shake. “Why would someone with a butterfly on their car do that?”
The woman paused. “Could you draw the butterfly?” She asked slowly.
“I’m not good at drawing.”
“That’s alright, just do your best.” She slid some paper in front of him, along with a pen. “I need you to do this as best you can, Vallie.”
The boy frowned. “Will it help us find who did it?”
The boy stuck his tongue out and bit down onto it as he concentrated on the drawing. Once finished, he held it up.
“Madre de Dios.” She became pale. “That’s the sign of the Ku Ton, Vallie.” She wrapped her arms around him tightly. His eyes widened with shock
Valerio slowly pushed her away and reached for the speaker button. Just before he pushed it, he looked up at Mia. “Aunt Mia? Who helped Papa stop the ones who killed Mama from killing more?”
She blinked. “Units Alpha Seven and Omega Seven.” She frowned. “Why?”
With a quick movement, he pressed the button. “Units Alpha Seven and Omega Seven, to the big boss office immediately.”
Mia hurried to turn around and try to hit the button to call them off. “You can’t do that, Vallie!” She raised a hand to slap him, and reached for the button just as the two units entered. Each one had five members, and they looked at the pair with uneasiness.
“What’s going on?” The leader of Omega Seven asked stiffly. Two each, rifles were trained on Valerio and Mia.
The boy grinned. “I’m in charge now, since Papa was your boss.” He pushed his adoptive aunt away. “That’s Aunt Mia. She thinks I shouldn’t, I think.”
The five members of each unit looked at each other briefly, then at the boy and the woman. The leader of unit Alpha Seven spoke up. “How do we know you aren’t lying, little one?” He walked to the desk and leaned against it casually. Under his visor, he sported a playful smirk. “You look like him, but we gotta be sure.”
The boy paused. “What’ll convince you?”
“Let’s start with your name.”
“Valerio Alexandro Hulo?” He seemed uncertain as he answered, suddenly intimidated by the guns aimed at him. “Aunt Mia, she can tell you!”
The Alpha captain paused and looked at her, then blinked. “Mia! Ha, it’s been a while! Who’s the little guy, and where have you been? It’s been too long, girl!”
Mia laughed. “He’s Boss Hulo’s son, and I’ve been watching him, you jerk. I think he is trying to take over in his Papa’s absence.” She frowned.
“Well, I guess we may as well pave the way for him, then.”
“What?” That woman’s jaw dropped. “No! We can’t do that! That will put him in too much danger!” Mia hurried around the table. “You stop this right now, he cannot take over!”
“Someone has to. Boss Hulo’s second went down yesterday, right after Boss left.” His eyes hardened behind the visor. “We need a leader, and if the boy has someone sound to give him advice, he can be the head that keeps everyone together. We need that, to be together, more than we need a leader who has skills.”
Mia became silent. “Fine, but if you get my boy hurt, I will skin you with my fingernails.”
“You don’t have fingernails. You bit them off.”
“That makes it hurt more.” She narrowed her eyes at him in a warning that Valerio knew all too well, and the big, strong leader of the Alpha Seven unit laughed.
“You win, we won’t get him hurt, I promise you.”