I can't even begin to tell you how long this damned plot bunny has been running amok inside my brain, hundreds of different scenarios and variations have burrowed themselves into my imagination. And I've finally settled on everything, made everything reasonable and believable. I hope you like it.

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December 15, 2016

Some people called me crazy, my friends thought I was insane, hell even I question my sanity when I first thought of joining the military. My family couldn't understand why I wanted to fight for a county I wasn't raised in. But Italy was my home and it had it perks, the entire force was more relaxed than the Canadian Forces and they were posted in some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Speaking of perks here came two of them right now. The two female members of my squad were leaning against the large open window frame and peering in on me. The pair of them were eerily similar the only thing that differentiated them was the slight scar on the right ones face running along her left cheek, but that's what you get when you know twins.

"Vincenzo Nicastri! Are you still reading that dusty old book? It's a beautiful day come enjoy it, let's go down to the range for a bit. We need to get some practice with these new rifles." The one on the left said.

Looking around the dimly lit room filled with a dozen beds, a few of which still hadn't been made. "Uhh I think I'm good Daniella, this dusty old book is one of my favorites."

This caused the one on the right to pout "Aw come on Vinny, if you come we can go down to the club tonight. I'll even wear that dress you like."

To say the two of them were good looking was an understatement so the fact that I didn't look up and continued to look at the book even if i was no longer reading it was an achievement. "The black one?"

"Yes the black one. Are you coming?"

Marking the page I let out an exaggerated sigh before throwing the book onto my bed "Well Jessica it seems that you've left me no choice, to the firing range."

"Thank you Vinn you won't regret, it now hurry up!" And with that they disappeared getting up I grabbed my rifle, a newly issued ARX 160 with holographic sight. Looking at it I knew Jess was right, two months with the gun and I had barely put four dozen rounds though the thing. I shake my head in derision as I step out into the crisp winter air and take in the awe inspiring site of the reconstructed roman forum turned military barracks, the light dusting of snow adding to the effect.

This was my favorite time of year, the barracks was almost empty only half a dozen people on duty at one time due to the holidays and it gave the forum an ethereal quality. I walked quietly to the range enjoying the sound of the snow beneath my feet and the sight of the twins purposely exaggerating their waist swaying just to tease me. "Those two are going to be the death of me, I just know it." I chuckle to myself.

As we reach the firing range Daniella hands me a suppressor and starts to attach one to her own rifle, one of the concessions for having a firing range inside the city. I get it attached just as Jessica looks up from here weapon. "Hey, I'll be right back I forgot something on my bunk."

It wasn't even ten seconds after she left the door before Daniella broke the silence "You know she likes you? Right?"

This was unexpected and I swore I misheard her "Excuse me?"

"She likes you, just as much as you like her." I start to protest but she must have noticed and quickly cuts me off "Don't deny it I've seen the way you look at her and I see the glances you share. You can have an entire conversation without speaking a word, when are you just going to grow a pair and ask her on a date."

I'm to shocked to reply right away, Daniella was usually the quiet one the first to seek an alternative to conflict, the exact opposite of her sister yet here she was calling me out. "What are you talking about we always go out."

"Exactly! We do as in all three of us. But dammit you have to go on a real date just you two!" her voice was hushed but carried a force of authority with it.

I sigh as I bring my hand to rub my face. "When did you become so smart?"

She gave a soft smile and opened her mouth to say something but a dull roar interrupted her followed by a billowing cloud of smoke and fire reaching over the tops of the buildings followed by the echoes of gunfire. "GesĂș Crist... That came from the Vatican."

I was staring mouth agape when Jessica arrived and grabbed onto me shaking me out of my stupor. "Let's go! The Vatican has been bombed! We've got to get geared up and get there now!"

What happened next I can barely remember it was all a blur, grabbing gear, guns and ammo before the three of us plus a guy from the mechanic corps were hurtling down the road in one of our Puma 6x6s. When we got there the sight was heart wrenching and nauseating. Don't get me wrong, I had been in combat before and seen the horrors it entailed, being part of the two final tours in the middle east tended to show you how brutal it could get, but that had been a year and a half ago. And nothing prepared you to see hundreds of civilians gunned down in the Vatican square with more being shot as they tried to flee set to the back drop of a burning and blown up Vatican where dozens of people were firing indiscriminately from the windows.

We pulled up just outside the main square and the mechanic started to exit the vehicle with us but I turned around and put a hand on his shoulder. "Stay here and man the gun, give us some covering fire." he just nodded, he looked just out of high school and scared as hell. I couldn't help but give some last reassuring words. "Keep them pinned and your head down, you'll make it through this."

And with that we were off, fighting against the tide of fleeing people all while trying to dodge the gunfire that lanced our way. We didn't even get a few meters when the gun men noticed us and started to direct their fire to us, a young girl in front of me no older than 16 had half her face blown off.* Behind me the 50 finally opened up.

(*A harsh lesson of reality, one I would learn many times before I set down my gun and not the worst.)

Daniella tripped on a dead body and I grabbed the back of her vest on instinct dragging her the last few meters to an open door, Jessica was firing down the hall. Propping her up against the wall I grabbed both sides of her face. "Are you okay?" She nodded vigorously I let her go "Good now get up, we need to find the Pope."

Trusting her to her own devices I ran up beside her twin. "Sitrep Jess."

"Two contacts, looks like Al Qaeda." she said loading a new magazine into her rifle.

"What!? Didn't we eradicate these assholes!?" I yell as I quickly dart to the other side of the hall in the lull of fire. Leaning out I snap a quick burst at one of their exposed heads, missing by just a few inches causing masonry to explode in front of his face.

"Apparently not well enough!" Daniella yelled firing her own burst and pegged the guy in the chest, clouds of blood forming in front of the entry holes. Trying again I managed to clip the last guy in the shoulder, before Daniella finished him with a quick head shot. We waited and waited, the guns outside still firing.

I nodded my head "Alright let's go, it should be clear." Slowly we advanced down the halls, the rich paintings and statues defaced with bullet holes and bright blood splatter. On the ground bodies of tourist and priests intertwined with Al Qaeda and Papal Guard, blood was everywhere no surface was spared. Outside the 50 stopped firing.

"This is disgusting, what purpose do they have attacking us?" Jess said as we passed the two dead terrorists.

"Think about it sis, they destroy the Vatican and kill the Pope they'll have struck a blow against the majority of western countries."

"Ya? Well we're not going to let that happen." I say lengthening my stride. We continued in silence for a while, it was to tense for words.

"Vinn look. This guys still breathing." Daniella broke the silence, turning around I saw her bent over an unconscious papal guard who seemed to be waking up. Walking over to him quietly I tap him on the face.

"Hey buddy, it's time to wake up." he suddenly grabbed on to my arm in a death grip.

He gasped sitting up right. "The pope! They said they were going to kill the pope!"

"Yes we figured. Are you okay to fight" Jess asked from her position.

The man stood up and grabbed a fallen G36 from the ground. "Ci, I am able. I am Cyril."

"Good." turning back to Daniella I tell her my plan. "Dannie, you and Cyril are going to sweep down to the priests quarters and check for survivors. Don't argue! That's an order, me and Jess are going to go secure the pope. Hey Cyril, where is the pope most likely to be?"

"His room. It's able to be locked down like a bank vault."

Standing up I pulled Cyril up with me who started to advance of to the left, Daniella started to follow him but I grabbed her arm twirling her round. "Dannie... Please be careful." she just gave me a small smile and then she was gone.

We continued in silence, the only noise was the sound of police sirens and military vehicles rolling in. Soon after gunfire erupted and the screams of men and women filled the night. We crept along, seconds felt like minutes, minutes hours, it was the most nerve wrecking battle fields I had ever been on. Apart from those first two we had no contact with the enemy but judging from the amount of their dead they had to number in the hundreds. It was a chilling thought.

But as we grew closer to the papal suite we started to run into more of them, they were all wounded and attempted to call out a warning before being gunned down our suppressors masking the noise. And like that seventeen souls extinguished in an instant. I tried to push the thought from my brain they weren't men, they didn't have family's or wives, they were monsters who killed innocents and holy men. They were to be destroyed.

We came across our next opponent only a few meters away he was hosing the courtyard with a large RPK his friend feeding the belt. I gestured to Jess and drew my combat blade she followed my example and counting down to three we lunged. I threw my arm down with all my might and felt the blade slip into flesh and bite its way through bone. The two fell, nothing but dead weight now. I don't know why but my curiosity overcame my common sense, I looked out the window. I don't know what I hoped to see but what I saw was devastating, hundreds of corpses lay on the ground and that number grew by the dozens as Italian soldiers attempted to retake the building, muzzle flashes illuminated the windows where yet more gun nests fired into the courtyard.

I noticed Jess moving to look herself but I shook my head "No... You don't want to see that." Daniella might have listened but Jessica was stubborn and looked anyway, judging by her gasp she regretted her decision. The silence that fell between us was tense and palpable as we continued on, any gun nests we found were ruthlessly silenced, our hearts had been hardened and there was no room for mercy. Fourteen men, seven guns, and the men outside noticed and rallied pushing into the building. But the sight that greeted us when we reached the Popes suite, the door blasted open and the Pope's secretary of state hung dead upside down. Nobody was around otherwise and we slowly entered the room, only for me to collapse at my knees, I have no desire to describe what I saw in that room but the pope was dead. I let out a cry of anguish as I stared at his body and I don't know how long I sat there but I was pulled out of it by Jess shaking me.

"There's a bomb. We have to defuse it there's only two minutes left!" that snapped me out of it and I rushed to the bomb, a briefcase sized device packed with enough C4 to level the wing we were in. I fumbled with the wire clippers in my webbing and tried to steady my hand as I fought to recall my training.

I started to mutter unconsciously "Blue first, right to left." four blue wires were cut. "Red, left to right."

One wire.
0:45

Two wires
0:40

My hand trembled as I moved to cut the final wire when a deafening gunshot shattered my concentration, whipping my head to the left I looked at Jessica, her face contorted in pain. How that face would haunt me. Blood started to stain her combat vest and she fell, crumpling into a heap. What happened next happened in a matter of seconds, my pistol had found its way into my hand and was already whipping it's way to the bastard responsible. He was just a lad, probably no older than 15, his turban falling of his head and blood splattered on his chest, he clutched and AK tightly his knuckles white against the wood. His eyes though, so filled with hate and loathing, they bore through me better than any bullet ever would. For him though bullets worked just fine, firing all twelve rounds into his chest and face. I dropped the pistol forgetting everything as I rushed to Jessica's side. I ripped open her combat vest and put all my strength into stoping the blood that flowed from her chest.

"Jess! Jess your going to be okay! Just stay with me! Goddammit I order you to live!" but she was fading fast, blood erupting from her mouth as she tried to speak. "Don't speak, save your strength. Don't leave..."

What ever was to happen next was interrupted by a clock reaching zero and the detonation of 15 pounds of C4. After digging through the rubble there was no evidence of anyone having been in the papal room. Private Jessica Acri and Lance-Corporal Vincenzo Nicastri were pronounced Killed in Action and given the Gold Medal of Military Valor posthumously for their sacrifice and efforts that saved dozens of Italian law enforcers and military volunteers.

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At the same moment as the detonation of the C4 a dusty old book forgotten on a standard military bunk started to flip pages in the wind until it flipped with the cover face up. The title:

The Emperor's Finest

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Welcome Lords and ladies to my glorious Self Insert! Or more accurately the version of my self that is three years older and well along one of my chosen career paths. As I said up top this has been invading my brain constantly and I finally got around to getting it written. Now just a precaution, I plan on taking the 40k timeline and making it my bitch, people will be in times where they will be far from born or long buried, expect to see Cain, Gaunt, Shcaffer and even Ravener. Now your job is to warn me if I ever start to approach the accursed Gary stu status and if I fuck up the pacing. Oh ya expect swearing and liberal amounts of grim dark. Also, inquisition.