tagRomanceTug and the Ripper

Tug and the Ripper

bydtiverson©

This is my third Tug story. In this one, our hero and his Atlantean wife solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper; thereby, saving the world from Nazi Armageddon. Their discoveries expose the real truth behind the Whitechapel murders, along with some of the more unsavory elements of Victorian England. Along the way, they meet the legendary Victorian swashbuckler, Harry Paget Flashman. And, King Edward the Seventh tries his luck with our hero's wife. It's in Romance rather than Sci-fi because it's a love story. Read on, and enjoy!

*****

TUG AND THE RIPPER

Maria was talking with Bastet. That wouldn't be remarkable. Except Bastet is a CAT. Well; like everything else in my life, Bastet isn't EXACTLY a cat. She's an Egyptian Mau; more-like a kissing cousin to a cheetah. Bastet and my wife converse frequently, mind to mind; or whatever passes for a mind in a cat.

Maria is stunningly beautiful, both inside and out. She spent her first 318 years as a Priestess of the Sun on the lost continent of Atlantis. Nonetheless, she's still only in her twenties by Atlantean standards. That is why she has the kind of lithe, well-endowed body that Antonio Carlos Jobim was thinking about when he wrote, "The Girl from Ipanema."

I met her when we rescued her ship from a time-storm. You might find that hard to believe. I know I did. That was until I discovered her psychic powers. Most guys don't have a wife who spends her time snuggling in YOUR head, or who can knock out 250-pound linebackers with a thought.

Which brings me to the lucky guy. I must have had a name once. But, I live aboard a Natick Class YTB Harbor Tugboat. She was built sometime after World War II and she's big and ugly. But she's me and vice-versa. So, now everybody just calls me "Tug."

Docked among the big pleasure boats, my tug's an utter misfit. She has a vulgar rusty paint job, instead of being brilliantly white. When I first saw her, the other boats seemed to be shunning her; like everybody shunned me growing up. It was love at first sight.

I told you that I met Maria when we pulled her family out of a time-storm. Okay, I didn't know what that was either. It turns out that time-storms are one of the hazards of time travel. Yes, time travel. I told you; this takes a little getting used to.

The Atlanteans have very advanced technology, which is understandable since they came to Earth from a planetary system around Rigel.

They lost an inter-planetary war 13,000 years ago, which sank Atlantis to the bottom of the Atlantic. The survivors fled to a remote valley in the Tien-Shan mountains. They call it New Atlantis. Maria says we'll never find it because they have it shielded. But ostensibly, it IS the basis for the myth of Shangri-La.

Over the succeeding 13,000 years, Atlanteans explored outward from their new home. That has been good for humanity since it brought us things like civilization and culture. It also ensured that Atlanteans would be involved in our history.

More importantly for me, it also ensured that Atlantean genes would be propagated into our gene pool. I might not be outstanding in any way except my genetics. But I won the DNA lottery; and I am almost pure Atlantean. My dad owns a hardware store and my mom is a housewife; go figure?

Anyhow, because of my genetics Maria and I can make little Atlanteans. She has told me that she married me because she loved me. I find that hard to believe given her beauty and my averageness. So, I am sure that my genetics were a factor. But then again, I am also not one to question good fortune. Especially since it brought me this unearthly beauty; literally unearthly.

Growing up, I DID sense that I had special powers. I have a skill at deciphering complex things. It's almost the equal of Maria's psychic abilities. The answers come to me in a flash of insight. It was that ability that led us through the labyrinth the Templars had created to guard the Ark of the Covenant. You heard me right, like in Genesis.

It was also the ability that lets me find zero-day vulnerabilities in computer code, which is why I devoted my teen years to shaking down the software industry. So, I had stashed several million in the bank before I could legally drink. Of course, drinking wasn't my thing. But, I DID smoke enough weed to denude whole acres of productive farm land.

We were wed by the High Priest of Atlantis. That was a three-day ceremony of music and finery on the island of San Miguel, in the Azores. The place was chosen because it is only two miles from the original Atlantean Temple of the Sun. Unfortunately, that temple is straight down on the bottom of the Atlantic sea bed, and you would need a bathysphere to visit it. But, the Atlanteans can access its aura from that location.

Maria and I are bonded for life. That's an Atlantean thing. There is something in the marriage ceremony that forges a psychic link for our lifespan, which in Maria's case is thousands of years.

Apparently, that's my situation too. I haven't aged a day since Maria made me drink from the Fountain of Youth, which is located on Bimini Island.

After our adventure in Canada, we decided to settle down in Key West. Why? Well, if you discount the perfect hot sunny tropical climate and the totally laid-back atmosphere, there is still the fact that it is, as the sign says, "The gateway to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America." So, we could go anywhere from there. We were permanently docked at a marina in the Key West Bight. That was handy walking distance to Duval Street and the old City.

The climate is more like the tropics than the continental U.S. So, you walk around in the minimum of casual clothing. Maria was strolling down Greene toward Captain Tony's in her standard outfit, which is a light linen top and a pair of short boat shorts. The shorts, showcased her magnificent long legs and her firm round butt. I was several paces behind, just watching those superb buns rolling back and forth. I heard a voice in my head say, "Stop staring at my ass!! People are starting to notice." That's the price you pay for having a psychic wife.

We turned left through the big wooden doors at Tony's and found a seat at the bar. It's the same bar that Earnest Hemingway used to drink at.

It's a myth that Hemingway drank at the Sloppy Joes on the corner of Duval and Greene. He DID drink at Sloppy Joes but that was when it was in the building where Captain Tony's is now. In 1938, the owner of the building raised the rent a buck-a-month and the guy who owned Sloppy Joes moved it to its current location. Papa didn't move with it.

The rafters above the bar are festooned with autographed bras. That should give you some idea about the ambience. One of Maria's delicious D's is up there. The tourists normally bring theirs in a brown paper bag. Maria just dropped her shirt, and took hers off, right there in the middle of the bar. Somebody might have called the police, if everybody wasn't riveted by the sight of her fantastic tits.

Maria isn't so much an exhibitionist as she is a natural woman. There is nothing affected about her. Even though she is a fabulous beauty, backed by the wealth and power of an ancient, alien culture, she's as down to earth as a Nebraska farmhand.

That is odd, in-and-of-itself, since her father Carlos, is the Atlantean High Priest of the Sun, and her mother Carla, is the High Priestess of Cleito. Cleito is the mother of all Atlanteans; basically, a fertility goddess. So, Maria's bloodline descends directly from the Olympian Gods.

Maria is lithe and pantherish, while her mother has the enormous tits and hips that you would associate with a woman who represents the Atlantean Earth Mother. In short, Carla is the wet dream of every kid who ever hid an illicit Playboy under his mattress. I imagine that Maria will be as voluptuous as her mom in 900, years, or so. It gives me something to look forward to.

I was reminded of Maria's parents as we walked back to the Tug. That was because a gleaming white 200-footer was just making its way past the breakwater of the Bight, headed toward the dockage by the Jefferson Island Ferry. That was the only dock big enough to accommodate it.

The ship was the Poseidon and it was the lone craft that could legitimately bear that name. That is because, it belongs to Maria's parents. And her dad is the one man on earth who is truly descended from that god. Carlos ancestor was the actual Poseidon.

Most of the Greek Pantheon is made up of Atlanteans. Their culture predates Western civilization by five thousand years and so when they were first encountered by the proto-Greeks, those primitive people must have thought them godlike. After all, in the words of Arthur C. Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

We headed for where their ship was being docked; walking together, in the hot tropical evening. Carlos came down the gangway with his face wreathed in smiles. He adored his daughter. Me? He could tolerate.

Carlos is an incredibly handsome and charismatic man. He is middle height, perhaps five-ten. He has a darkly handsome Spanish face, very cool and controlled. There is just a hint of grey at the temples of his perfectly groomed, thick black hair.

Everything about him reeks of perfection from his sculptured hands to his sturdy muscular body. His immaculateness almost seems unnatural; which I suppose is true in some respects, since he's not from around these parts; by about 800 light years.

Maria's mom was gliding along behind her husband. She had on one of those almost sheer tropical print coverings. It was wrapped around her formidable hips, with a light linen shirt over her immense boobs. The shirt was mostly unbuttoned and tied around her still firm tummy, the front of it was straining under the bounty of those huge tits.

There was the usual hugging and back slapping. They both kissed their daughter. Carla managed to mash those monster jugs into my chest as she hugged me hello. The woman simply can't be anything but sensuous. Then Carlos said with a somber voice, "We need to talk to you. This is a very urgent matter and we have to resolve it immediately."

Well THAT was a buzzkill. Half an hour ago we had been enjoying the easy bonhommerie at Captain Tony's and now my Father-in Law was here to fuck up my life. I gestured "lead-on" and they walked back up the gangplank and into the Poseidon's sumptuous lounge.

It was just as I remembered it from the first time, light and airy with outstanding views of the harbor, through floor to ceiling windows. Of course, the last time I was standing there I was asking them for their daughter's hand in marriage.

That was right after I had discovered that Maria wasn't exactly a girl from the hood. Now things had changed. We were an old married couple and we had been on an adventure that had more-or-less saved mankind from the Atlantean's arch-rivals, the Athenians.

Athenians aren't the Greeks who own restaurants. They are a nasty collection of aliens who were stranded here after the war with the Atlanteans. The last time I had seen Carlos; he was leading a picked force of Atlantean troops in the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant, which Maria and I had just found. We ran into a couple of Athenians doing that. They are indeed, scary mother-fuckers.

I had a feeling that Carlos had our last exploit in mind when he showed up to talk to us. So as soon as we sat down I said rather testily, "What do you need us to do now?"

One of the conditions of our marriage, was to do side-jobs for the Atlantean Royal Council. I knew about that obligation even before Maria went back to Atlantis. Where, she had to be relieved of her priestly vows in order to marry me.

Of course, I thought I had lost her forever that first time she left. And I was almost shot up by the Cubans getting her back.

Carlos looked a little hesitant as he said, "What do you know about Jack the Ripper?" Now THAT was a surprise!! Since, I knew a lot about the dude. I said guardedly, "Depending on who you listen to, he committed anywhere from five, to seven, murders during the fall of 1888."

I added, "He certainly wasn't the world's first serial killer. But, he was the guy who got all the press. In fact, he almost single handedly created the stereotype. He gave the London Police fits for a few months and then just disappeared."

Carlos looked surprised and said, "How do you know all that?"

I said, "Growing up, I read everything written about the guy. The whole mysterious foggy streets of London, horror thing, is very attractive to the nerd mind. And as you know, my Atlantean genes won't let me forget anything that I actually read."

Carlos said, "So you know the details of the crimes and the setting?"

I said, "Of course. I'm a Ripper aficionado."

Carlos looked like a bird about to gobble up a tasty bug as he said, "So you could navigate your way around the locale if you were there?"

I said, "The facts of those murders have been available for almost 130 years. I don't think there is anything about the East End in the Fall of 1888 that hasn't been meticulously documented and over-analyzed. Why do you ask?"

I heard Maria's voice in my head say, "Oh-oh!!"

Carlos got an ironic little smile as he said, "That's excellent news, because we have an assignment for you."

*****

The general theory of relativity describes gravity as a curvature in the time-space continuum that permits "closed time-like curves." The existence of these time-curves has already been described in field theory. In common terminology, they're called worm-holes.

Wormholes are posited in the equations that underlie quantum physics. The hypothesis is that time dilation occurs if one end of a time-space continuum is accelerated to a significant fraction of the speed of light, while the other end is not.

Time dilation is a well-established penomenon. It occurs as you move closer to the speed of light. Therefore, it is hypothetically possible for the "older" end of a closed time curve, to move past the "newer" end of the curve; making the past, the present. It's kind of like turning a sock inside out.

The problem is that, creation of a traversable wormhole requires "negative energy." Modern quantum physics postulates that negative energy exists. The Casimir effect has more-or-less proven that phenomenon. But, humans have yet to generate negative energy.

The operative word here is, "humans." The Atlanteans perfected negative-energy wormholes while our human ancestors were perfecting fire. So, time travel is commonplace for them.

Still, the ability to move back and forth in time could wreak havoc in everybody's future due to the "grandfather effect." That's the old relativity paradox of two objects not existing in the same place, at the same time. So, access to the space-time continuum is strictly regulated.

As High Priest of the Sun, Carlos was one of the overseers. He explained that the Atlanteans monitor time-space for any activity that might represent a potentially significant anomaly, or threat. They had detected one in 1888 and reported it to the High Council.

Basically, somebody was messing with the Ripper killings and the Athenians were suspected. That was chilling news indeed. Since the Athenians want to have the planet all to themselves. So, wiping out the human race is high on their to-do list.

As I might have mentioned, Athenians aren't really from Athens. These Athenians come from the alpha-planet around the star Rigel. The Atlanteans are from the beta-planet. There has been bad blood between the Athenians and the Atlanteans for millennia.

That's because, the former enslaved the latter for several of those millennia. In fact, it was the war with the Athenians that landed the continent of Atlantis on the bottom of the Atlantic. So, Athenian involvement in anything was ominous; to say the least!

Maria and I had fallen into the clutches of a couple of Athenians in our quest for the Templar treasure and they were a nasty piece of work indeed. Their sense of superiority is reflected in their extreme beauty. Their cold, heartless appearance broadcasts their total contempt for anything NOT Athenian.

But then again, their odd looks also convey their natural cruelty. Their skin is extremely pale, which is a consequence of their planet being right at the edge of the habitable zone of Rigel. Maria's planet is nearer to Rigel and so her people have a much duskier, sunnier appearance.

Nevertheless, the main difference between an Atlantean and an Athenian are their eyes. Maria has striking amber cat eyes. While Carlos's eyes are a warm shade of brown. The eyes of Athenian females are pale arctic blue, almost like they have no irises. While, the males have soulless obsidian eyes like a snake.

Still, whether their eyes are pale, or obsidian, Athenians will kill you without remorse. That is because they consider every other creature on Earth to be no more important than insects.

I'm a nerd, not a hero, even though I accidentally killed an Athenian in our last venture. So, I make it a policy to stay a long way away from any stray members of that race.

Carlos looked worried. That worried me; mainly because he's never worried. He said, "As you know, there are alternate timelines that emanate from any significant event. They represent different futures from the one that actually occurred."

I absolutely didn't know that. But, why should I? Of course, Maria was in my head and she said, "It's like what would happen if the South had won the Battle of Gettysburg."

Carlos said, "That's right, and slavery would still be an institution, that sort of thing."

I semi-got what they were talking about. Nonetheless, the fact that the entire family was holding a conversation in my head was a little disturbing.

Carlos added, "A new timeline just appeared and it's horrendous. In this one, the Nazis won World War Two and the resulting world-wide, totalitarian State has all the worst features of that regime. Tens-of-millions die, and most of the rest are in concentration camps. The situation has the fingerprints of the Athenians all over it. That's a world where they'll thrive."

I had visions of those pale skinned mother-fuckers parading around in jackboots and SS uniforms, saluting each other, and I could see what he was saying.

Carlos looked at me like he was willing me to do the right thing, and said, "It all seems to originate from actions that occurred during the time of Jack the Ripper and we need somebody with your problem-solving gifts and knowledge of the history to investigate."

There it was, they were asking me, a harmless nerd, to mess with the dude who invented serial killing. I was about to say "no" when I heard me wife, who is a true Atlantean Princess, say, "When do we leave?"

*****

I insisted on doing a little preparation. The clothing and other paraphernalia weren't an issue. You could get all of that from a theatrical supply store.

But that era was rife with killer bugs. I knew that I had the immunity built in by the Fountain of Youth, while Maria was Atlantean. But, I wasn't taking any chances. Those diseases have been eradicated in our time. So, I had us immunized against small-pox, cholera and the plague, plus a list of other nasties that were common back then, like flea bites.

That era was also extremely violent, at least where we were going. Most of our perceptions about the gentility of the Victorian era come from sanitized stories about the English upper-class. But the fact is that the London East End was a jungle; where you had as much to fear from the police as from the natives. It was either kill, or be killed.

When I was with Maria I wasn't afraid of physical violence. Her mind is lethal. But I had to be able to defend myself. A Glock was tempting. But they hung folks for shooting people back then. So, I brought an Asp Talon fighting baton. It fit neatly in the pocket of a Victorian overcoat. It gave me a sense of security, even though I knew that I would get my ass kicked if I ever tried to use it.

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