7 . 03 P.M.
VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY, ROME
The Vatican City was thrown into chaos when the specified time of the greatest explosion ever recorded in Roman history was made public. There was commotion in the major roads and streets as people scampered out of the city to nearby states. The airport terminals were overcrowded as those who could afford the exorbitant prices of emergency flights made their escape by flight, others took to the Adratic Seaport. Stampedes were reported at various areas. Tourist hotels were counting their losses as tourists checked out in numbers. The College of Cardinals currently in Rome had been whisked away to nearby Venice in a bid to conduct the Easter celebration for the first time in the history of the church, outside the walls of the Vatican City.
Today would be one of the most horrible in the history of the church; it had been nicknamed the ‘infernal Easter’. A total of five passenger planes had been either attacked or hijacked.
Chief Monte Pique and his men has since today prevented only two bombs from detonating, one in the Vatican Pinacoteca and another in Belvedere Palace. Right now, his men were working on another bomb that had been discovered by the bomb squad of the CTAN who were currently working with his men. They have tracked down the bomb to the Vatican secret archives.
Pique stood at a reasonably safe distance and had on a blast suit. He observed the bomb detonators do their job on the five-minute time bomb.
He was yet to fathom how the terrorist or whoever that planted the suitcase-like bomb beneath a marble stool that was carved into the floor of the library could do that. Just like other bombs, it was tracked by the bandwidth signal it was receiving from a remote location that was obviously not in Italy.
Pique was convinced that only the Pope, the Prefect of the Vatican secret archives and the Cardinal Dean had access to it. His men had confirmed that no one had walked in there for close to three days now and there had been no forced entry equally. He had been trying to figure out but no way. The security camera records came up clean. He wondered what he could have done if not for the timely intervention of the CTAN agents. It had to be someone from the inside, someone from the inside, someone who knew all ins and outs of the Vatican. He had long suspected that someone high in the hierarchy of power in the Vatican must be behind all this.
3 MINUTES LEFT
Activity increased in the archive as both agents and Swiss Guards ran helter-skelter trying to remedy the situation.
He lighted a cigar and took his time to take in, for the last time, the beauty of the four-hundred and twenty-eight year-old library. He knew the history by heart, just like every other major structure in the Vatican City.
Pope Sixtus commissioned Italian artist Domenico Fontena to design the magnificent Vatican library, and it was completed between 1587 and 1590. The ceiling as other ceilings in the Vatican such as those in the Sistine chapel were designed by Michelangelo Bounarotti and featured lurid details of scenes from the Old Testament.
In previous years, different Popes had them renovated, equipping them with modern hi-tech security equipment. The original manuscripts and papyri were encased in indestructible glass vials, accessible only with the correct access codes and key cards. The overall humidity of the building was being monitored and moderated by a machine to prevent further wear and tear of the old scripts. Security cameras graced every nook and cranny of the library and provided live feeds to the central command center.
“We’ve got barely a minute. Begin to pack up!” Pique announced from the oak table he had been reclining on. The bomb squad were yet to detonate the bomb. Pique had lost all hope and had little faith that the reinforced non-Newtonian polymer urethane glass would minimize the damage. He adjusted the visor of the blast helmet and made to leave.
“A fuse to go!” One of the young men dealing with the bomb announced as he took a defusing device and set to work. The bomb was attached underneath the marble and it didn’t make the job any easier.
“How long would it take?” Pique asked. He was beginning to worry. Swiss Guards were already leaving the archive, carting away as much volume of the vialed scripts as they could, but even at that, half of the shelves had not been cleared of their contents.
“Thirty seconds to go!” Pique announced “You better leave that alone! I’m leaving!” He said, running for the exit.
He secured himself behind a temporal plexus-glass barricade. Pique was worried, as well as the other agents, but the CTAN bomb experts were so defiant. His only consolation was that they looked as if they knew their job pretty well.
“They’ll end up as pieces of roasted barbeque”, a Swiss Guard standing beside Pique said. Pique shot him a look that made him wish he could swallow his words.
The four bomb experts were yet to come out. They were a total of five initially but one of them had given up on it. Pique grabbed ear muffs from a CTAN agent passing it around and wore it over his ears.
Five seconds later, nothing happened and the seconds rolled into minutes. He wondered whether the ear muffs reduced the noise to nothing. Ten minutes later, the four of them rounded the bomb shield and pulled off their head gear.
“We made it, guys!”
In spite of themselves, a round of applause erupted.
“You guys would sure receive a medal for this”, the bomb squad leader, a heavy set black man said giving each of them a bear hug.
They all heaved a sigh of relief. Pique personally was impressed; he shook hands with them.
“Let’s hurry up, five hours before this whole place goes up in flames. I’ve arranged a plane to cart us away if things get too bad”, Pique added.