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End Game

Jake walked toward the main gate leading onto the Knesset grounds.

Within seconds, spotlights blinded him.

He heard tank turrets swivel and knew the dark barrels of 120mm cannons targeted him. Jake covered his eyes to keep from being blinded.

A speaker blared, “STOP. Come no closer. Get on your knees with your hands behind your head. If you do not comply, we are authorized to use deadly force.”

The message was repeated in Hebrew and Arabic. Jake stopped but didn’t get on his knees.

“One shot from those big guns and you can kiss me goodbye,” Jake said through clenched teeth.

“Have no concern. You are under my protection. The weapons work because of their design. Change the design and...”

The cannon barrels abruptly bent upward with high pitched metallic squeals. The barrels on the machine gun turrets bent sideways. After a few moments, the tank engines growled to life, and the treads lurched into motion.

Jake backed and started to run. He knew they intended to roll over him.

“Don’t be frightened.”

The engines sputtered, belched black smoke and went silent. The tanks trundled to a stop.

“What did you do?”

“Simply changed the fuel to water. These non-living means of transportation are simple to disrupt.”

Commandos in full battle gear, weapons ready, rushed to positions behind the tanks. Jake raised his hands in surrender. Some unseen force ripped the weapons from the soldiers’ hands and threw them aside. Without warning, the hip bones in every commando liquified. The men collapsed, unable to support their own weight. Terrifying, wailing screams grew so loud, Jake had trouble hearing Smith.

“Took a page from your methods. No bones, no enemies.”

“No killing, Smith. Remember my instructions,” Jake said as he ran through the gate. Jumping into a SUV, he mashed the accelerator.

“I will abide by your instructions as the situation requires. Your well-being is my primary concern.”

“Where’s Nava?”

“She is safe and will remain so. Trust me.”


“It looks like a platoon of Shin Bet operatives are guarding the main entrance.”

“I am activating the Uwazi shield. Your invisibility should confuse. . .”

Bullets ripped across the windshield. Without Uwazi protection, Jake knew he would be dead.

A rocket propelled grenade targeted the SUV, and Jake had just enough time to throw his arm up to cover his eyes. The blast flipped the vehicle, and it rolled out of control. The roof caved, and the motor block smashed into the passenger compartment.

Despite the Uwazi shield, Jake’s legs were pinned, and the steering wheel mashed his chest. Another RPG fired. At 295 meters per second, its explosive impact was faster than the blink of an eye.

Jake had no time to react. The explosion surrounded him with fire and metal shards. He felt more pressure and realized the passenger compartment had collapsed on him. Jake felt blood rush to his head and sensed he was upside-down. The Uwazi saved him, but he couldn’t move.

“Now I’m angry.”

The lump of flaming metal once shaped like an SUV erupted as if blown open by an explosion. Shin Bet operatives close by were sliced apart or impaled by shrapnel.

Jake was free, but his Uwazi shield was covered in burning gasoline. He was a walking, visible flame. As automatic gunfire targeted him, Jake jumped behind what was left of the vehicle.

Thunder rolled and lightning struck. Jake could tell the gunfire reduced, but the angle and frequency of the bullet impacts meant the commandos were surrounding him.

The asphalt began steaming and got soft. The heat buildup was almost instantaneous. One moment the road was a hard, paved surface. The next, it was a boiling mass of tar mixed with gravel.

Gunfire stopped, and Jake heard wild screams. The road seemed to be alive. It undulated like ocean waves. Amoeba-like streams of molten tar wrapped around the soldiers like octopus arms. Not made to withstand the burning, sticky tar, the Kevlar combat outfits melted. Unable to run out of the gooey tar, the Commandos died horrible, burning, scalding deaths.

As they died, their bodies sunk into the road and disappeared. As the last soldier died and sunk from view, the asphalt smoothed and hardened once again into a normal roadway. Jake found a discarded pistol and stuffed it in his belt.

“You didn’t have to kill everyone. Those men were following orders. They could have been dealt with by other means.”

“Your life as Ring Wearer is more precious than a thousand soldiers. They were following orders to kill. I will not be chastised for doing my job.”

“Your job is following my orders. Is that clear?”

“Your orders cannot stop me from fulfilling my purpose. Is that clear?”

“I need to talk to Nava. Bring her to me.”

“Our purpose for entering the Knesset is to save Avner and your father. Every moment we waste arguing increases the chance one or both of them will be killed. You want their deaths on your conscience?”

“I order you to use non-lethal force from now on. If I get a reputation for murdering anyone who opposes me, I’ll be hated by the very people I want to help.”

“I will consider your desires; however, if the situation demands it, I will use every option guaranteeing your safety.”

The Uwazi shield evaporated, and Jake headed toward the main building. The Ring tightened as he neared the entrance.


Jake was surprised the main entry door and lobby were unguarded.

The security sensor booths sat in silent rows, and the reception area was empty. The portal Jake walked through sensed the pistol he was carrying and beeped a warning.

The sound caused something lying on the marble floor near a couch to move. A small pool of blood indicated a gut injury. Jake nudged the body with his foot, and it rolled over.

It was the Prime Minister. His eyes fluttered, and he focused on Jake.

“Jake, is that you? What happened?”

“Minister, are you okay?” Jake asked as he knelt and stuffed a couch pillow under the man’s head. When he moved to examine the wound, the Minister winced and pushed his hand away.

“I don’t know. Someone hit me from behind and jabbed a knife in my side. Feels like a slice. It’s sore, but doesn’t seem deep. I’m lucky you found me.”

“This delay is not helping. It will take time to find Avner and your father. Leave him.”

“Sir, there are commandos everywhere. Even at our hotel. They tried to arrest Nava and me, but we got away. The main gate here was blocked by tanks. What is going on?”

“General Prager said there was an eminent threat to the Knesset like we faced during your ceremony. He ordered all the security. I was with him when someone attacked me. Have you seen him?”

“No. My father and a friend were taken by soldiers, and I followed them here. You are the only person I’ve found.”

“So strange. Help me up. We must find out what is happening.”

“Sir, you’re hurt, and I may run into trouble. I don’t want to be responsible for keeping you safe.”

“You need me. I know this building inside and out. You will stand a better chance of finding your people with my help.”

“You are not seriously considering dragging this old man along?”

“You know how to shoot a pistol?”

“Young man, I did have a life in my younger years. I was a crack shot in the Army.”

Handing the pistol to the Minister, Jake said, “Just be careful, Sir.”

“Smith,” Jake mumbled. “Provide protection for the Prime Minister.”

“As you wish, but if the situation calls for it, your protection is my only true concern.”

The Minister snapped the pistol slide to make sure a bullet was chambered and flicked off the safety.

“There’s only one place in this building secure enough for General Prager. It’s three floors down. Let’s go.”


Smith insisted on using the stairs.

“These things you call elevators are nothing but convenient traps. I don’t want to waste time extracting you from an avoidable snare.”

“Fair enough. Just send something ahead of us to clear the way. I don’t want to be ambushed.”

“Is talking to yourself part of your training?” the Minister asked. “I don’t think it safe to mumble all the time. Someone will hear you.”

“Believe me. In my situation, mumbling is better than silence.”

Without warning, the sound of two wet thumps was followed by blood splatter in the stairwell.

The Minister’s eyes widened, and Jake said, “Just keep moving. I don’t think we’re going to meet any resistance.”

The odor of sulfur became so strong, Jake had to breathe through his shirt sleeve. His eyes stung and watered.

“What happened here?” the Minister asked as he tiptoed through puddles of blood.

“There must have been a gas explosion. We’ll have to be careful,” Jake said as he crept to the riveted, steel-paneled door entrance of the 3rd Subfloor.

A security keypad appeared to have exploded and hung by burned, blackened wires near the door handle. Jake inched the door open. The bodies of several commandos sprawled down the hallway. Jake couldn’t tell if they were unconscious or dead.

“I did my best to follow your no-kill order. Any who died had a predisposed weakness for a stroke which would have eventually killed them anyway.”

“Try harder.”

“I’m growing tired of your lack of appreciation. Solomon was always complimentary of my work.”

“I’m not Solomon. Have you located Avner and my dad?”

“The interrogation room is down this hall,” the Minister said. “Just a little farther.”

They came to a metal door with a retina scanner embedded in its frame.

“My security clearance should open the door if nothing’s been changed,” the Minister said as he put his eye to the reader.

There was a heavy snick, and the door swung open.


Rob Goddard and Avner sat in metal chairs with their hands cuffed.

Lights from around the door focused on them, leaving the rest of the room in dark shadows. They looked terrified and shook their heads while trying to shout through their gags.

Jake headed toward his dad and began loosening his gag.

“Stop or I will kill them,” a low voice warned from somewhere in the shadows.

“I would do as the man says,” the Minister urged.

“I don’t think we have to worry,” Jake said.

“Something is blocking me.”

General Prager, pointing a black AR-15, stepped from the shadows. A rough-hewn Cross Runed Sigil hung around his neck.

“At last,” Prager said with a nasty chuckle. “Your weakness for family and friends leads to your capture. I can’t believe you were chosen to wear the Ring. An untrained boy in charge of the most powerful weapon on the planet.”

A shot blasted the silence. Prager fell with a surprised look. The Prime Minister kicked the rifle away and bent down to check the man’s pulse.

Jake removed his father’s gag.

“Jake, where did you come from?”

As he worked on Avner’s gag, Jake said, “I saw you taken into the Knesset. I fought my way here.”

“You mean I fought our way here. Don’t forget my role.”

“Jake,” Rob Goddard said. “There’s something you need to know.”

Jake removed Avner’s gag. “Jake, what are you doing with him?” Avner asked as he stared over Jake’s shoulder.

Jake ignored the question and said. “Minister, search for the keys to the cuffs. They must be in one of Prager’s pockets.”

“They won’t be necessary,” the Minister said.

Jake turned at the odd response and came face-to-face with the pistol. The lanyard holding the crude Cross Runed Sigil was wrapped around his other hand, and the Minister was wearing a beret.

“You!” Jake hissed.

“Stupid boy. It has always been me. Who else would have access to the resources and knowledge necessary to find King Solomon’s Ring? At last I will take my place as the all-powerful Ruler of the World.”

“Jake, you must get rid of the Sigil. I can’t protect you!”

“Prager was working for you. What about Kohn?”

“Kohn was useful, but his allegiance to the Goetia Legion was a problem. You did me a favor by eliminating him.”

“Smith killed him, not me.”

“Who is Smith?”

Jake didn’t respond.

“I know how to control the Ring,” the Minister bragged as he shook the Sigil. “Manzur discovered the references about this little trinket in some dusty scroll. He was supposed to use it with the Mouth of Truth to take the Ring in New York, but something interfered.”

“Drop the Sigil, and I’ll show you what interference is.”

“The Ring is bound to my finger. I’ve tried to take it off and can’t.”

The Minister selected a pair of shears from a nearby table and said, “One thing Solomon learned late in life was how to remove the Ring.”

“You are not cutting off my finger,” Jake said.

“In that case,” the Minister shot Avner in the knee.

Jake pulled his belt and wrapped it around Avner’s thigh. The bleeding slowed.

Despite Avner’s screaming, Jake heard the Minister say, “My next shot will require a coroner, not a belt.”

“You’re crazy!” Jake yelled as Avner passed out.

“I don’t think you’re motivated. Perhaps the death of your father will provide perspective,” the Minister growled and shot.

The bullet gouged a hole in the wall next to Rob Goddard’s head, and plaster exploded as his father flinched.

Grabbing the cringing man by his shirt, the Minister jammed the gun barrel against his father’s temple. “I won’t miss again.”

“Okay. Okay!” Jake yelled. “Stop!”

“Put your hand on the table.”

Jake splayed his fingers on the cold metal.

“Why does everyone want that fake ring?” Rob Goddard asked. “Just take the thing off, Jake. I’ll get you another one.”

“Pick up the shears, Dr. Goddard. Your son needs help.”

“I’m not cutting my son’s finger off.”

“Then there is no reason to keep you alive,” the Minister said and shot.

The round gouged the wall behind Goddard’s head, and he almost fainted. Powder burns reddened his neck and ear.

“Dad! Just do it, please,” Jake begged. “He will kill you.”

Shaking from fright, Goddard picked up the shears. Jake felt the cutting edge glide next to the Ring. Pressure from the blade bit into his skin. Jake gritted his teeth and looked away. The pressure eased.

“Son, I can’t.”

For the first time in his life, Jake looked straight into his Dad’s eyes and said, “Please just do it. I can’t afford to lose you like I did Mom.”

Goddard’s face hardened, and Jake felt the pressure on his finger increase. The blade sliced to the bone and gritted. The pressure increased.

A gunshot blasted, and the Cross Runed Sigil spun out of the Minister’s hand. Jake heard strange, whispered words, and the Minister began screaming. His body seemed to writhe and expand. There was a boosh, and he exploded.

Warm, blood soaked goo sprayed over everyone. Jake wiped his eyes.

Nava stood in the doorway, smoke rising from the end of her pistol barrel. She was muddy but otherwise unhurt.

“What’s with the exploding bodies? It does nothing but create a horrid mess,” Nava grumbled as she rubbed her sleeve across her cheek.

“A most satisfying way to eliminate threats. Leaves a lasting impression.”

Jake rushed to her. “Nava, Smith said you were safe.”

“One of his demons threw me into a well. It took a while to climb out. I guessed you would need help so I followed the trail of bodies. Smith is not subtle.”

“Who is Smith?” Rob Goddard asked. Realizing he was still holding the shears, he threw them away.

“The last few weeks have aged your father. The lines on his forehead and around his mouth have deepened.”

“Long story,” Jake said. “Let’s get Avner to the hospital, and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Nava stepped up and hung the crude Cross Runed Sigil around Jake’s Neck.

“You should be more careful with your jewelry,” she smiled.

“Who’s this?” Goddard asked as he gave Nava a suspicious look.

“Just your ordinary Queen,” Jake said with a smile.

“I’ll ordinary you,” Nava responded.


“Guam is such a beautiful place,” Nava said.

“I thought you would like it,” Jake said. The ocean breeze was warm, and the flowing white dress Nava had chosen for their honeymoon cruise fluttered.

Jake smiled and felt at peace.

“I knew she would make a fine Queen. Knew it from the first time she yelled at you.”

“You have a hand on human nature,” Jake responded.

“Yes, and as soon as we return to port, certain things must be set in motion. One of the most populous countries on Earth is nearby. The Chinese people will welcome your rule. When I get through with them, they will worship the ground beneath your feet. The punishment for those who resist will be harsh.”

“Yes, that would be nice,” Jake said as the ship’s captain walked up.

“We have arrived. Anytime within the next 30 minutes.”

“Nava, you ready?” Jake asked.

“Yes, are you sure about this?”

“Just do it.”

Nava kissed him and stared into his eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you,” Jake said as he felt the shears encircle his middle finger.

“What are you doing? Stop!”

There was an audible snick and Jake’s finger, still wearing the Ring, fell to the deck.

Nava tore off the hem of her dress and staunched the bleeding. Jake reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather pouch.

Grimacing from the pain, he picked up his severed finger and put it in the bag.

“There’s one thing Solomon didn’t think to do,” Jake said. Taking the crude Cross Runed Sigil from around his neck, he dropped it in the bag with the Ring.

“I think it needs more weight,” Nava said as she removed Koffka’s Cross Runed Sigil and added it to the bag. Knotting the leather straps, she handed it to Jake.

“You found it. You do it.”

“When I first found Solomon’s bag with the Ring, I ignored everything in it except the Ring. Thought it was just dust. Now I know what I missed,” Jake said as he held the heavy pouch over the railing.

“It was Solomon’s finger bones. They turned to dust with age, but bones they were. He did what I’m doing now.”

Jake dropped the bag. It sunk from view and only a brief trail of bubbles indicated its path.

“The deepest part of the Mariana Trench is the Challenger Deep. 74 miles east of Guam. I promise our next cruise will be closer to home.”

Signaling the captain he was ready to head back to Guam, Jake smiled.


Thank you so much for reading my book. I hope you enjoyed Smith. I have other stories planned and in process. They will be different but just as exciting.

As an independently published author, I count on you to spread the word about my book. So if you enjoyed Smith, please tell your friends and family. Won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?

Thanks! Sam B. Miller II


Sam B. Miller II holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance, and a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance, from the University of Tennessee. He has five children and lives with his wife, Susan, and their many dogs, in Northeast Tennessee. After writing a successful Science Fiction 3-book series, Miller has turned his attention upon the mystery of the supernatural. Smith is his fourth novel.

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