4 .17 A.M.
ST. PETER’S SQUARE
Amara pulls up in a rental car and a Swiss guard directs her to a vacant space in the parking lot. A tall looking guard emerges as she is coming out of her car. He is dressed on an overall with vertical stripes of yellow, red and dark purple. His socks and loafers are all of the same colors just like the other Swiss Guards. Even in the dim lit of the parking lot, they could be easily distinguished.
Meeting the famed Vatican soldiers had been one of the adventurous things she had hoped to experience in Rome. According to her researches about them, they came into being in the early 16th century when Pope Julius II recruited Swiss mercenary soldiers to guard the Vatican City which had been on a struggle to gain her independence as a state from Italy. It was not until 1929 that the famous Lateran Treaty was signed by the Italian
President Benito Mussolini and Pietro Cardinal Gaspari declared the Vatican City, an independent state. The traditional regalia of the Swiss Guards were designed by the controversial Italian artist and sculptor, Michelangelo Buonarroti who also designed most of the churches and famous artifacts in the Vatican City.
“Buorigiorno Signora, posso aiutarvi per favore?” he asked in a thick Italian accent.
“Please, I’m sorry. I’m English,” she said, demonstrating as best as she could. She swung her digital camera out of sight.
“Alright Signora, in what way might I be of help to you?” he asked, making an attempt at speaking English and almost mingling the sonorous drawl of the Italian language with his English.
“Actually, I’m Amarachi Bradley from the Cable News Television,” she said, groping for her ID in her sky blue snake skinned clutch bag and handing it over to him.
He walks over to an overhead street lamp to get a better view; Amara trailed behind him. When he was satisfied, he looked up at her, a scrutinizing look on his face.
“You come at such an early hour, miss.”
“I’m on a special assignment with the Pope.”
“Your confirmation ID?” he demanded.
A wave of confusion washed over her face; she didn’t see this coming.
“Sorry?” she enquired, attempting a convincing smile.
“Signora, per favour! I demand your confirmation ID!”
Just as they were arguing, they heard some noise behind. It was coming from the St. Peter’s Square which is a few meters opposite the Swiss Guard’s barracks. The walkie- talkie clasped on the guard’s belt rang.
“Hello, Signoré Monte,” he said and listened while the person on the other side spoke.
“What? St. Peter’s Square? I’ll be there in a minute, Signoré. Eh, I have a lady here,” he said, stealing a quick glance at the lady and then at the metallic ID.
“One Ms. Amarachi Bradley, a reporter and she claims to be on a papal assignment but she could not provide a confirmation ID,” he said and listened. “Okay,” he said afterwards and eyed the pretty young woman while strapping back his walkie-talkie.
He handed her the ID card and pulled out a Bluetooth earpiece from his breast pocket. After turning it on, he carefully strapped it on his ear.
“Pardon me, strange things are happening recently. The papal palace was attacked just this night. We can’t afford to take any chances.”
“Attacked? What the hell is happening?” she asked.
The Guard shrugged, “Basta cosi per il memento! Get in the car, I’ll take you to him,” he ordered.