of identical runts, who refused to feed during their first month, after the famous child actors-turned-models. Being good sports, the Olsen twins showed up at the naming ceremony and even fed their namesakes . . . albeit from a safe distance.
The remaining two sisters seemed to have been born from a different litter. At forty-six feet and twenty-one tons each, they were nearly twice the size of their three smaller siblings and far more vicious.
Elizabeth, or Lizzy for short, was pure albino like her mother. The voting public (swayed by various Euro pe an blogs) had named her after Elizabeth Bathory, the worst serial killer in Slovak history. In 1610, the infamous “Countess of Blood” had been charged with the torture and deaths of hundreds—mostly young girls. Her cold savagery seemed to match the personality of the stark-white juvenile, who often took a calculated second position to her more ferocious twin, Belle.
Belle, affectionately referred to by the staff as “Bela the Dark Overlord,” was the only Megalodon offspring born with pigmentation. Though her head was pure-white, the rest of her dorsal surface was a dark charcoal-gray from her dorsal fin to the upper lobe of her tail, giving her a rather bizarre, sinister appearance. Named after Belle Gunness, the infamous “Black Widow” who teased and killed fourteen of her suitors back in 1908, Belle was the brawn to Lizzy’s brains, an aggressive predator who often had to be separated from the pack before feeding time.
It is not feeding time, but the pen is in turmoil.
Dr. Jonathan Stelzer, the Institute’s director of marine biology, is frantically calling out orders by the iron rail that surrounds the illuminated azure aquarium as workers attempt to close the titanium gate behind Mary Kate and Ashley. The two panicked Meg pups are swimming in tight circles along the near side of the tank. On the opposite end of the aquarium, sub pilot Steven Moretti is climbing inside the Jellyfish , the acrylic sphere-shaped submersible rigged to its truck boom. The head of animal husbandry seals the hatch, tugs on his lucky turquoise baseball hat, and gives the thumbs up.
Moments later, the sub is swung over the tank and quickly lowered into the water, remaining tethered on its cable leash.
Mac sees Dr. Stelzer and hurries over to him. “Jon? What the hell—”
“The sisters!” Stelzer points to the far end of the tank where a three-foot, ivory caudal fin cuts erratically back and forth along the surface, shadowed closely by a far larger pale dorsal fin. “Lizzy has Angelica by the pectoral fin, and she won’t let go.”
David sees a dark shadow shoot past them underwater on a collision course for the two albino creatures. “Belle . . . she’s attacking.”
The lead-gray caudal fin lashes a great, arcing swath of water through the air as Belle strikes the pinned runt.
Moretti submerges the Jellyfish in time to witness the underwater assault. Lizzy is on Angelica’s right flank, her jaws firmly secured around her sibling’s pectoral fin. The bite is not meant to inflict damage but to control the smaller Meg; still, blood flows freely from the savage wound—
—exciting Belle. The dark-backed Megalodon glides beneath the Jellyfish and attacks Angelica’s exposed left flank, tearing into the runt’s thick, white hide with her sharp, juvenile teeth.
Moretti activates the “predator prod” as he races in after the darker Meg. Protruding from different angles along the spherical hull, the six steel lances pack 5,000 volts of electricity—more than enough to ward off the aggressive sisters. Striking Belle along her pelvic fin, he chases the dark predator away.
Angelica’s gushing flank is now enshrouded in a bloody haze. Descending the sub beneath the wounded runt, Moretti attempts to strike Lizzy with one of the prods—
—while above the tank, a hoisting crane rolls along a pair of tracks embedded in the concrete deck. The steel expanse