Destiny Background

WARNING: This page contains major plot spoilers.

If you haven’t read Destiny yet, you should not view this page. It is intended as an extra to supplement the book and contains material that may spoil the plot.

The following are elements that I used for my research when writing the book. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! 


Frangibles, or fragmenting bullets, are factual. These are bullets that split into multiple projectiles after hitting their targets. What should be one deadly projectile turns into several lethal shards as the eight trocars in the nose of the 9mm bullet open up and shred through anything they come into contact with, including, yes, your organs. Frangibles are also known as RIP bullets. Not Rest in Peace, although that would be highly applicable in this context, but rather, Radically Invasive Projectile. Whoever thought that acronym up will laugh all the way to their grave. Once thought to be the bullets of the future, frangibles are very much the bullets of the now and are in active use by various special armed forces around the world, including the UK’s SAS as of 2017.

When I was researching what dangerous new ammo to give the bad guys in Destiny, I also came across three more “bullets of the future” that, quite frankly, made my eyes pop and my jaw drop.

MIB or Multiple Impact Bullet, is another type of fragmenting bullet, except this one doesn’t fragment on impact but before, giving a wider zone of destruction. Why just go for the stomach when you can hit the liver and the spleen at the same time.

EXACTO or Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, is a self-steering sniper bullet that increases the hit rate of difficult long distance shots. EXACTO literally tracks moving targets in mid-air and can even accelerate. They were first field tested by DARPA in 2015 but have yet to be deployed on active missions. I think.

The final type of bullet is still very much experimental. That’s the laser-guided bullet, which will boast steerable fins instead of conventional rifling and contain a smart chip that can steer it and make up to thirty trajectory corrections per second, all under the control of an optical sensor in its nose.

Pacific Missle Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai

The US Navy’s Barking Sands facility is factual. Classed as the world’s largest instrumental multi-environmental range, capable of providing complex and realistic training scenarios involving surface, subsurface, air, and space, PMRF is a missile testing and training facility for the US military and is heavily used by NASA and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin. PMRF plays an active role in RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise and the setting for one of my favorite action movies, Battleship. In Destiny, I used PMRF for one very specific reason. It was the only military facility capable of facilitating a C-17 Globemaster III on its runway on Kauai. Yes folks, my research goes that deep.

WMRD, US Army Research Lab, Aberdeen Proving Ground

The Weapons and Materials Research Directorate of the US Army Research Lab is factual and is indeed based at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The aim of WMRD is to improve and enhance the lethality and survivability of the weapons systems used by the US military. Simply put, they make deadlier, faster bullets, and also make stronger ballistic vests/barriers capable of sustaining impacts from those deadly, fast bullets. And not just bullets. WMRD’s field of scope encompasses researching the materials and technologies applicable to armor, armaments, missiles, ground vehicles, and helicopters, as well as an individual soldier’s hardware. In Destiny, I have a WMRD scientist work out the components of the new metal the bad guys use to make their lethal bullets. More about that new metal later.

Nano film tracker

Although the nano film tracker Vlado Krall places on Dimitri Reznak’s AMEX card is fictional, the science behind the water-resistant, liquid, thermoelectric element isn’t. I based it on a technology called Power Felt, which is effectively a thermoelectric device that converts body heat into an electric current. Power Felt was much talked about in 2012 but never made it to market. Other technologies and materials based on the principle of piezoelectricity (the ability of a solid material to accumulate or generate an electric charge in response to a mechanical stress or stimulus) have been in R&D phase since, including a mobile device nanogenerator film capable of turning mechanical vibration into electricity (so, jiggle your phone and it charges itself), and even piezoelectric floors capable of harvesting the kinetic energy of walking pedestrians and turn it into electricity (look up power generating floors in train stations in Japan).

Missing submarines

The mysterious case of the four submarines that went missing in 1968 is scarily factual. When I was trying to decide how I could get the bad guys stolen nuclear materials to build their reactors in Greenland, I thought the best way to do this would be to fake the disappearance of a few nuclear subs. The hairs literally rose on my arms when I actually started researching this subject and came across the 1968 missing subs.

The American Skipjack-class sub that went missing in the Atlantic was the USS Scorpion. The Russian Golf II-class ballistic missile sub that went missing in the Pacific was the K-129. The modified British T-Class sub commissioned by the Israelis that went missing in the Mediterranean was the INS Dakar, formally the Totem. The Daphné-class French sub that also went missing in the Mediterranean was the Minerve. There are many theories out there about what happened to these subs. Go read up on them. You’ll be pleased to know that none, thankfully, involved Immortals or suspicious individuals named Krall.

Super soldiers

I already alluded to the concept of super soldiers in Legacy and wrote about it in the Facts and Fictions section of the book’s back matter. In addition to bionanotechnology used to recombine human and Immortal DNA, and the use of performance-enhancing drugs and strict physical training regimes and psychological conditioning to prepare super soldiers for battle, I added several more technologies to the super soldiers in Destiny.

First, bioengineering from the cellular level up. Whereas the super soldiers in Legacy were human soldiers and Immortals who either volunteered or were tricked into joining the Yuma program, the ones in Destiny were conceived and grown in a lab, their DNA put together with extreme precision from cellular conception. This makes them deadlier as they have none of the limitations of the original super soldiers.

Second, the use of nanotechnology and nanorobots at a cellular level. This makes the super soldiers highly adaptable to all sorts of environments and stresses, with the nanorobots being able to accelerate tissue repair, control blood flow to vital organs in critical injuries, and maintain a perfect homeostatic environment inside the super soldiers’ bodies by regulating their organ function. Imagine a soldier with a life-threatening liver or spleen injury or even head injury on the field; with nanotechnology on board, his body will instinctively be able to reduce and control shock, pain, and minimize permanent injury by a careful balance of hormones, chemicals, blood flow, and the autonomic nervous system. This technology is already in experimental phase by DARPA under its IVN (In Vivo Nanoplatforms) program. In Israel, a company called Nanoretina is developing an artificial bio-retina composed of nanoparticles that can restore sight in under an hour.

Third, the use of neurotechnology. Closed-loop neural implants like the ones Anna discovers in the super soldiers’ brains and spines is not the stuff of the future but very much in experimental phase under DARPA’s BRAIN program and by the Israeli’s BIRD foundation. By using neuromodulation and neural augmentation, these devices can assess the state of your health and literally fix you from the inside out by sending nerve stimulation to your organs to control and modify their function. The biggest areas of research right now in neurotechnology are for diseases like strokes, spinal injuries, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even ADHD.

In Destiny, I have Jessica Wu go further and use the neural implants to manipulate the emotions, free will, and pain thresholds of the super soldiers, enabling them to fight beyond the physical limits of their bodies. Cue the cackling of other evil, James Bond-type baddies the world over.

Liquid-armor tactical suits

The liquid-armor tactical suits featured in Destiny are very much factual. The use of nanorobots in said suits is entirely fictional. For now. Here’s how liquid armor suits work.

Take some Kevlar. Soak it in a shear-thickening fluid (STF), which behaves like a solid when it encounters mechanical stress or shear. In other words, it moves like a liquid until an object strikes it. Then it hardens, in milliseconds. The science behind it goes something like this. Shear thickening fluid is a colloid, so it’s made of tiny particles suspended in liquid. Those particles normally repel each other, hence they float easily in the liquid. But a sudden impact overcomes the repulsive forces and suddenly those particles get super friendly with one another and stick to each other like glue. Or form hydroclusters, the correct scientific terminology. When the energy from the impact dissipates, the particles resume the hate part of their love-hate relationship and repel each other again. So, treat them nice and they stay liquid. Bitch slap them (or in military terms, shoot at them) and they turn solid enough to stop a bullet.

The other liquid that can reinforce Kevlar is magnetorheological (MR) fluid. Nope, nothing to do with the X-Men. And try saying that word really fast. MR fluids are basically oils that contain iron particles. Again, take some Kevlar and soak it in MR fluid. Expose it to a magnetic field and the iron particles in the liquid line up like a Roman infantry unit in phalanx formation, all vim, vigor, and as hard as diamonds. In the case of an MR liquid armor suit, it’s not the impact of the bullet that would turn it into an impenetrable fortress of doom. It would be a switch that would activate tiny electric circuits inside the suit, thereby generating mini magnetic fields.

These are all currently under research by such types as our old friends at the US Army Research Lab and MIT.

I also considered giving the bad guys military exoskeletons like the one from DARPA’s Warrior Web program, the Sarcos/Raytheon’s XOS2, and the Ekso Bionics/Lockheed Martin’s HULC, but decided I was venturing way too close into Iron Man territory. And nobody wants another smart-mouthed, billionaire playboy in Seventeen (I’m looking at you Howard Orson Rodney Titus).

Lightning and EMP devices

The electromagnetic pulse or EMP technology used in Destiny is factual. EMP is a short burst electromagnetic energy of natural or man-made cause that can disrupt or damage electronic equipment, as well as large scale physical objects such as buildings if it’s huge enough. The biggest natural EMP that could hit the Earth would originate from the Sun in the form of a solar magnetic flare. The biggest and most destructive man-made EMPs that could affect the Earth would be high altitude nuclear explosions or non-nuclear EMP weapons. A lightning strike is indeed a natural form of EMP. The Nevada scene was one of my favorites of the entire book and nicknaming Ethan the Ultimate Power Ranger was a given. The EMP grenades our Immortals and their allies use against the bad guys are in developmental phase. As for the Faraday pouches in the final battle, those are factual too. Go look up homemade Faraday cages. You will never look at aluminum foil and metal trash cans the same way again.

Can an EMP disable a real liquid-armor suit? Probably not. I theorized that the EMP would definitely destroy the nanorobots in the super soldiers’ suits, but as to whether it could disrupt the chemistry of the shear-thickening or magnetorheological fluid is anyone’s guess.

Uranium City, REEs, and HEAs

Uranium City is factual. No, seriously, go look it up. It’s a community that was set-up in the 1950s around the thriving Cold War uranium mines of the times and expanded rapidly in the 1960s and 70s. Once the last mine closed in the 1980s, the population dropped dramatically and now less than one hundred people live in what is effectively a large ghost town on the shores of Lake Athabasca.

The fictional mine that Lucas and the others infiltrate in Destiny is based on the geographically isolated Hoidas Lake Rare Earth Project, thirty miles north of Uranium City. Hoidas Lake is one of North America’s most significant and promising Rare Earth Element (REE) sites currently in development along a vein system known as the JAK Zone.

Rare Earth Elements have a large range of applications, from magnets, hybrid vehicles’ electric motors, military vehicles and weapons components, super conductors and lasers, to LED light bulbs, X-ray machines, PET scans, and mobile devices. The largest producer of REE in the world before it got shut down in the 1980s was indeed the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine Priya Chatterjee mentions in Destiny. China is undoubtedly the biggest player in the world right now when it comes to large scale REE production and has been since the start of this century, with its Bayan Obo mine being its greatest natural resource. Australia, Russia, India and Brazil are next in the top producing REE countries in the world, but their output is still dwarfed ten times over by the Chinese.

When I started thinking of the bad ass weapons I could give the super soldier army in Destiny, I knew I needed to put in a clue that Lucas and the others could use to eventually trace where Vlado Krall’s base was. That clue was the metal used to make the frangible bullets I talk about above. REEs were identified as one of the groups of technology metals critical for the US civilian and military industries even as far back as a decade ago. Not only are they used in their pure forms for all the applications listed above, but they are potential vital components of High Entropy Alloys (HEAs), effectively new metals with the combined abilities of all their primary constituents and more, like Priya Chatterjee tells Lucas and the gang in Destiny. The spark plasma sintering technology mentioned in Destiny is factual and is a method of super heating elements to just below their melting point to enable them to bond at an atomic level, thereby creating a new material that is denser, more compact, and has improved tensile strength, electrical, and thermal conductivity. It’s how ceramics are made.


IONDS, the Integrated Operational Nuclear Detection System Howard and Jordan use to trace the nuclear signals of the missing submarines, is factual. It started life as Project Vela in the 1960s, a space-based military system consisting of twelve satellites able to detect nuclear explosions in the Earth’s atmosphere and in space, and also gather data on natural sources of space radiation. It was an essential component of Nuclear MASINT (Measurement and Signature Intelligence) at the time. Nuclear MASINT falls under the more broad-based umbrella of intelligence gathering (the other intelligence gathering methods I’ve used in the Seventeen series and in the Division Eight series are HUMINT, GEOINT, and SIGINT). Over time, the program was also used to monitor nuclear tests and EMP events on Earth. Navstar satellites were introduced in the 1980s and the whole thing is now known as IONDS.

The extra electro-optical devices I place on the IONDS satellites to detect the presence of nuclear radiation at a constant low level on Earth is purely fictional. I’m pretty sure someone is working on this somewhere in real life.

Nuclear explosion

I wrote the final scenes of Destiny over a year ago, well before I finished Origins. The picture of those seven Immortals standing on a ridge and facing that explosion was etched in my mind from that time onward. So was the scene where the scientists on the International Space Station witnessed the fourth detonation. For me, this was the best way to explain the epic nature of what Lily and Tomas achieved.

A nuclear explosion consists of four phases. The flash and fireball of the initial detonation, which consists of an intense bright flash of light that can temporarily or permanently blind people up to fifty miles away, immediate heat radiation that can set fire to material up to eight miles away and burn people within a six to ten-mile radius, and deadly X-ray pulses that can kill up to two miles away. The second phase is the explosive nuclear blast which destroys and kills everything in its path within a two-mile radius and can injure people and cause damage to structures up to ten to twenty miles away; this second phase is accompanied by hurricane-strength winds. The third phase is the firestorm which is augmented by breaking gas mains and the winds of the blast; not only does the firestorm kill and destroy everything in its path, it also uses up all the oxygen in the area, causing death by suffocation. The fourth phase is radiation fallout and widespread contamination of all living and inert matter in the fallout zone, which can be several miles initially but can extend to hundreds of miles if one factors in winds. For example, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion caused contamination as far out as Sweden and Norway.

The first phase of a nuclear explosion, the flash and fireball, is accompanied by the mushroom cloud or cap of the explosion, which is formed of smoke, debris, and condensation vapor. This occurs in all kinds of powerful explosions, not just nuclear; volcanic eruptions also give rise to mushroom clouds. Alongside this mushroom cloud will be a series of short-lived clouds called Wilson clouds. These take the shape of rings that form above and around the mushroom cap. They are effectively areas of rapid condensation that form in the atmosphere as a result of the initial explosion, which produces a shock wave of compressed air. In the wake of the compressed air, the atmospheric pressure drops, forming low-pressure zones around the mushroom cloud. This results in the cooling and condensation of water in the atmosphere, hence the clouds. Once the pressure in the atmosphere equalizes again, the clouds dissipate as the water evaporates once more.

In Destiny, the mushroom cloud and condensation rings that accompany the first phase of a nuclear explosion never formed. That’s because Lily and Tomas create a wave of elemental and psychokinetic energy that literally wraps around the flash and fireball and propels it into outer space at super sonic speed, thereby dispersing over fifty percent of its kinetic energy. Since they cannot prevent the effects of the second phase, which is the blast at ground level, the only way they can save everyone on that ridge is to protect them under a dome of their combined energies, like the bubble they created on the island to protect Lucas and Anna from those RPGs. The wall of ice and rock generated by the nuclear blast literally skirts over and around this bubble, resulting in a solid dome when the debris cools down.

I thought it made for a pretty cool finale.