Meg: Hell's Aquarium

Meg: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Meg: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steve Alten
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Espionage
stretches across the width of the Meg Pen. A heavy-duty cargo net is being readied atop the yellow beam, fifty feet above the surface.
    After several attempts, Moretti finally manages to jolt the albino sister. The ghostly brute reluctantly releases its death-grip on its smaller sibling—
    —as Belle charges the Jellyfish , only to be stung herself from a different protruding lance. The dark-backed Megalodon quickly circles along the eastern divide of the tank, falling in formation below her albino twin.
    Moretti speaks quickly into his headset, “Angelica’s free. Drop the net!”
    The cargo net is released. Moretti uses the sub’s robotic claw to position it in place over the wounded runt. Angelica is swimming erratically, her right pectoral fin enveloped in crimson clouds of blood. Maneuvering the submersible along Angelica’s left flank, Moretti powers down the predator prod lest he accidently strike the injured Meg. Glancing down at his sonar, he tracks the two larger sisters—
    —who are swooping in from behind! Swiveling around in his pilot’s chair, Moretti catches sight of the siblings charging him head-on, their heads appearing as large as his entire sub. Quickly, he reactivates the prods, the Megs’ ampullae of Lorenzini instantly detecting the electrical impulse. The creatures veer off at the last second, spinning the Jellyfish like a top in their wake.
    Moretti pumps his foot pedals, using bow thrusters to steady his vessel. Smart fish. The pilot wipes beads of sweat from his forehead, then swivels around to face Angelica. The creature is caught head-first in the cargo net. Activating the submersible’s two robotic appendages, he secures the netting around the runt’s abdomen.
    The maneuver elicits a reflexive slap from Angelica’s caudal fin. The injured predator arches its back in pain as it attempts to swim away, succeeding in only pushing herself deeper into the entanglement.
    “Jon, she’s secure, but watch her abdomen. I think Bela struck her there pretty good.”
    Above the tank, a pair of winches activate, retrieving the cargo net and its 10,470-pound catch. Gently, Angelica’s body rises out of the water, her wounded twenty-five-foot torso twisting and flexing like a snake.
    Dr. Stelzer makes his way to the holding tank—a circular shallow pool used as a “Meg ER.” His medical assistant, Fran Rizzuto, prepares a half dozen syringes, filling each ten-inch steel spike with a chemical synthesis of Tricaine Methanesulfonate—a powerful anesthesia designed to calm the fish and reduce injuries. Then, she screws the last syringe into the business end of its fifteen-foot reach pole. “Six syringes, each packing 5,000 milligrams of MS-222 should be enough to put her under while we scan her injuries.”
    Angelica thrashes in the cargo net, thirty feet above the Meg Pen. Fran, now wearing a safety harness, climbs the steep steps built inside the right column of the crane, each powerful thrash of the Megalodon’s torso threatening to toss the native New Yorker into the aquarium. Taking no chances, she clips her harness onto one of the numerous eye-bolts fastened beneath the crane’s steel expanse beam.
    Dr. Stelzer hands her the first reach pole. Leaning out, she stabs the syringe into Angelica’s flank just below the gill slits, injecting the elixir directly into the wounded creature’s blood stream. She passes the reach pole back to Dr. Stelzer, who exchanges the used syringe for a new one.
    On the opposite side of the tank, the tethered Jelly-fish is raised out of the water by a winch and crane built into the back end of a truck.
    Two more injections and Angelica calms down. Fran turns to Dr. Stelzer. “She’s good to go. I suggest we wait until the X-rays before we inject her again.”
    David joins Dr. Stelzer and Mac. “What started all this? Were they fighting over food?”
    “We’ll have to look at the videotape. But no, we weren’t feeding them. The sisters suddenly swarmed

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