“But there’s a mirror to this, another way of looking at a family’s genetic roots. Robert mentioned how the Bloodline traced its roots to the clans that were cast out by Moses. True or not, he said they still kept certain Jewish traditions alive.”

Gray twisted and pointed to Lisa. “You mentioned how the triple helices could only pass down a female lineage. From egg to egg to egg, due to the cytoplasmic nature of the PNA strand.”

She nodded.

“That’s why they cast aside all other paths to immortality and concentrated solely on this one. It had a direct correlation to the images on the staff of Christ, but also because it fit what they wanted. A trait that matched their traditions and goals.”

“Which was what?” Painter asked.

Gray pointed to the screen. “The mirror image to a patriarchal view of heredity is a matriarchal one. According to the Mishnah, the oldest codification of Jewish tradition, you must be the child of a Jewish mother to be considered Jewish. The father doesn’t matter. The Jewish heritage is passed only through a woman’s bloodlines.”

But Gray needed proof. “Jason, can you separate out the two genders on this map? Tagging which are males, which are females.”

“Easy. The data is already in place … let me plot in the algorithm.” Then a few seconds later, he returned. “Here are the male lines of the family.”

As they all watched, blue lines sprang to life and illuminated that genetic galaxy—but a clear pattern appeared. Most of the blue threads remained tangled and clustered down the center, only a few coursed into the outlier sections, that hazy edge of the family.

“Now the female bloodline,” Gray said.

The blue fire vanished, and crimson lines blossomed. The outer fog around the central clan lit up with a rosy glow, a crimson cloud of heritage wrapped around the Gant clan.

A small gasp rose from Painter. “Almost all of these outlier lines are women.”

Gray stared closer and traced one of those crimson lines. “A woman leaves the Gant clan—and, in a handful of generations, it’s a woman who returns to marry back into the fold. Seldom a man.” He had another idea. “Jason, can you tag only the outlier lines, see how deeply they mesh with the main Gant clan?”

“Give me a few … done. Here you go.”

On the screen, everything fell away, except for the crimson haze at the edges. Another pattern became clear. Only a few of the red lines ever delved deeply into the main genealogical center. They only stayed for a generation or two—then darted back out again.

Painter saw it, too. “It’s like they’re sticking their toe in the gene pool, then pulling it back out again.” He turned to Gray, realization dawning in his eyes. “They’re like parasites on the Gant family. Bloodsucking flies. They hover near the well of the Gant wealth and power, tap into it regularly, feeding off it to sustain themselves, but mostly they live apart.”

The very definition of outlier.

Painter pointed to the screen. “This is not chance. This was done purposefully. A breeding plan to sustain a female lineage.”

“But why?” Lisa asked behind them.

Gray answered, “It’s likely the only way they can sustain such a lineage, to keep it from fraying away in a world where wealth is passed down to the first son, where most power has been wielded by men. To survive in that world, they adapted. They became parasites on specific families. Remember, the Bloodline once involved more than just the Gants. They performed this same dance with five or six wealthy European clans. Likely these parasitic flies traveled between these various families to better hide themselves.”

“They didn’t want to keep all their eggs in one basket,” Monk said.

Gray agreed. “But over time, those other families died away, ground under the march of time, until only the Gant family was left. We know in the past the Bloodline has tried to recruit new families, but in this modern age, where it’s not easy to hide and where family wealth often comes and goes in a couple of generations, they’ve only met with failure.”

Painter leaned back in his seat, looking paler. “Leaving them with the Gants.”

“Where they’re circling the drain, likely knowing it’s become unsustainable. I believe that’s the purpose of those experiments. They were seeking ways to keep their lineage alive, to extend it and give it permanence.”

Lisa spoke, her voice hushed with shock. “That’s why they went with the triple-helix plan. A triple helix can only pass down a matriarchal line. And they came so close to succeeding.”

“I think that success—along with the pressure Sigma was putting on them—gave them the push to strike out with a masterful endgame, one final move to ensure their power for generations on end.”

“The assassination plot,” Painter said.

“And the murder of Robert. The Lineage was done nibbling at the edges. They wanted to consume the Gants whole, to take over the family completely, to fully access their wealth and power.”

“But they failed.”

“And because of that we need to be scared,” Gray warned. “This Lineage has survived centuries, living in the empty spaces between other families, doing what they must to survive, shedding their humanity.”

“And they’re skilled at it,” Seichan added, likely picturing Petra. “They won’t succumb quietly. They will leave a wake of destruction behind them. Not out of vengeance—they’re too cold and calculating for that. They’ll do it because it will serve them in the long run. To cover their escape.”

“But how do we find them?” Painter asked.

Gray nodded to those crimson lines. “We start there. They don’t know we are aware of this.” He waved a hand to the trail of red lines. “We start plucking threads—and hopefully the rest will unravel.”

“There might be a way to find which threads are the best to pull.” Painter leaned toward the laptop’s microphone. “Jason, is there a way to examine those outlier lines and determine which ones lead the farthest back? In other words, which have the richest genetic heritage?”

“That’ll take a little more time.”

Painter turned to Gray. “From those massive databases you saw at the Lodge, heredity was important to them. What if the Bloodline links power to genetic heritage? The richer your heritage, the more authority you wield. If we can trace those lines of power—”

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