“So why are you taking this blood and that swab again?” The patient was holding the cotton wool ball firmly onto the site the needle had gone into his arm. “I mean, I only came into see you about this cough.”
“We’re testing to see how far some genetic engineering that was embedded in a number of the original colonists might have penetrated the general population,” the doctor explained as he spread the sticky strip over the cotton ball to free up his patient’s hand. “It was intended to give the colony some advantages but there’s evidence the Second Dynasty might have eradicated the carriers.”
“What happens to anyone you find who’s got this stuff?” The patient was beginning to look worried. “Did the Second Dynasty have a reason for getting rid of it?”
“Apparently they thought the carriers threatened their authority,” the doctor finished labelling the samples. “It’s been suggested that they were too self-centred to realise that the genetics were important. If you’re found to be a carrier, well how do you feel about having lots more children?”
“My wife’d kill me,” then the patient laughed. “Are they expecting to find anyone?”
“Professor, you’re the expert on the Second Dynasty’s purges of the god lines.” The Health Minister poured tea for the Head of the Health Secretariat and their guest, the professor. “Do you think anyone could have evaded them?”
“If the Dynasty’s own records can be believed,” Professor Jerrec sipped his tea and smiled in appreciation, “They were very thorough about it. To be a member of one of the target bloodlines and survive you would have to not have had the idiosyncratic colouring of the bloodline for start. That way no-one could tell just by looking at you. Then there would need to have been no record of you being part of the bloodline, so there’d be a break in your parental records because your father wasn’t acknowledged or you were a foundling. Of course there’s also that possibility that knowing that the squads were coming, someone managed to step into a dead man’s shoes.”
“Swap identities with someone who’d just died?” The Head of the Secretariat pursed her lips. “That would need an entire community to agree to keep the secret, wouldn’t it? Or you’d have to move away immediately, unless you swapped a live newborn for a stillborn. Done right that could have very few people in on it. Do you think we’ll find anyone, professor?”
“I think you’re more likely to find the descendants of people like Emperor Yannic,” smiled Professor Jerrec, “the results of princely dalliances and adventures.
“What we’re actually looking for in this preliminary test,” explained the senior laboratory technician to Head of the Secretariat and Professor Jerrec, “is a tag we identified on chromosomes in the reference samples the Emperor and Empress supplied. We don’t know what it does but it does identify those chromosomes that are of interest to this study.”
“So,” asked the Head of the Secretariat, “have you found anything?”
“Actually, we have.” The senior laboratory technician’s smile gave her dimples. “There’s a clustering of positive results from Headwaters that we’ve traced back to a man who was conceived and born there without a recorded father while the Underpass through the range was being built.” She pressed some buttons and a family tree came up and scrolled through on the screen beside them. “With the help of Central Records we’ve been able to identify all his descendants and we believe that testing of these individuals,” names at the bottom of the screen bolded in blue, “will give us samples of Gedim the Engineer’s Y-chromosome.”
“That could explain why we get so many engineers out of Headwaters,” observed Professor Jerrec. “Have you found any female lines?”
“Unfortunately, no,” sighed the senior laboratory technician. “The most interesting thing about the Empress’ sample was her mitochondria. I’m quite in love with them and want them for my grandchildren. Another strain for comparison would be fascinating.”
This turned out to lead into Almost Everything....