WARNING: This page contains major plot spoilers.
If you haven’t read Legacy 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!
The Ural Mountains
The Polar Urals in Western Russia is the setting for the breathtaking prologue of this book. I wrote this scene with the song These Hands by Fades Away playing on my iPhone and it was the perfect inspiration for the dramatic start to Legacy. Once I visualized who and what Asgard Godard was, the scene practically wrote itself.
For those of you who read the character profile of Tomas Godard, Lucas Soul’s grandfather, Asgard featured as his eldest child. Asgard Godard was always meant to be in Legacy and the reason for his absence in the first half of the series is more than adequately explained by what happens in this prologue.
Those who have read Warrior will also recall that Kronos’s base was in the Ural Mountains. This was no coincidence. The place where Asgard Godard was trapped under the ice for nearly four centuries was not far from the underground cities where Kronos the sect was born, and where Alexa King defeated Boyko Dragov and Alberto Cavaleti in the dramatic finale of Warrior.
Defined by a straight, double-edged blade and a single-handed cruciform hilt, the arming sword was the military weapon of choice for knights in Medieval Europe. It was Tomas Godard, Asgard’s father, who had the sword made for his son when the latter became a Bastian Hunter in the 13th century. It was Asgard who named the blade Armistad.
He was understandably pissed off when Ethan damaged the sword in San Diego. And he didn’t particularly appreciate U.S. Army Ranger Major Steve Reynolds referring to Armistad as “Mittens” when they got to Yuma…
San Andres Mountains, New Mexico
The San Andres Mountains in New Mexico is the location of the army base where Asgard Godard is kept a prisoner for ten years following his extraction from the ice in 1959 and where Ethan Storm ends up after he is captured by Jonah Krondike. It’s pretty desolate and I thought it would make a perfect spot for a super secret military facility.
San Andres Mountains Army Base
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado was my inspiration for the army base in the San Andres Mountains. Home to elements of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and several other defense-related US government agencies, the structure of this nuclear bunker was just perfect for what I had in mind.
Some of you may recognize this shot as the place where Stargate Command is based in the popular TV series Stargate.
San Andres Mountains Army Base 1
A schematic of the Cheyenne Mountain complex.
Bear River Mountains
Located in Utah and Idaho, the Bear River Mountains form the northern part of the Wasatch Range and is named after the black bears that still inhabit the area. It is an incredibly beautiful and wild place made of plentiful peaks, some of which remain unnamed, mountain lakes, streams, and wild flower meadows. It is also home to some great wildlife, including moose, elk, deer, beavers, and marmots.
I picked this place as the location for the Benedictine abbey where Olivia Ashkarov has spent her entire life because of its many isolated, hard-to-reach valleys.
Long-barreled Colt Revolver
This is a Colt Buntline, a long-barreled version of the popular Colt Single Action Army revolver. Originally fictionalized in a biography of Wyatt Earp in the 1930s, the gun was eventually made by Colt in the 1950s, following popular demand.
I gave Asgard two of these as I thought he would like them, being an old-fashioned kind of guy. Plus, in my mind, he looks supercool using them.
The pentagram is a symbol which has been attributed with diverse meanings across many cultures over the centuries. One of its oldest associations is its representation of the five elements; spirit, fire, air, water, and earth.
I thought it was the most apt symbol to give Ethan in view of his elemental abilities.
Although Ethan mainly uses his elemental powers to fight, I felt he needed to have some kind of weapon. I decided on these two short swords, which he carries in a body harness strapped to his back. Besides, I thought it would be cool if Asgard taught him some sword fighting skills. Hence why there is a fencing area in their mansion.
The presence of a Seer in the series was something I had decided a long time back, when I outlined the overarching plot of the six novels. Of all the protagonists in Seventeen, Olivia Ashkarov is the youngest, most innocent, and most deadly, a potent combination indeed.
Her precognitive ability is the reason I chose this symbol for her, the third eye being commonly associated with visions.
Progeria and immortality
Progeria is an extremely rare and progressive genetic condition that makes children age rapidly and prematurely. It’s caused by a mutation in the LMNA gene on chromosome 1, which results in the production of the wrong form of a structural protein called lamin A/C; this protein is responsible for holding the cell’s nucleus together.
Olivia Ashkarov believes she has the opposite condition to Progeria, where her ageing is delayed. She is told this lie by the abbess Mother Margaret Edwards, who does not yet want to reveal the incredible reality of immortals to her young ward and hence comes up with a medical explanation for her eternal youth. There are a handful of people in the world with delayed ageing but no cause has been found for their condition. One hypothetical name suggested for the state of delayed ageing is Anageria.
Interestingly, the secret to longevity may very well lie on human chromosome 4. Researchers have found extra genes on this chromosome in families with a history of living 90 years and longer. Hence why I gave Madeleine Black extra sections of chromosome 4.
Santa Monica Mountains
When I visualized the kind of place a young tech billionaire would live in, I immediately had an image of an impressive, modern, glass, steel, stone, and concrete mansion spread over several levels atop a hill. There would be canyons and valleys around it and it would look out over the Pacific Ocean. It would also be isolated and highly defensible.
I looked at a map of the U.S. West Coast, thought Santa Monica looked like a cool place to live, and carefully selected one particular mountain to the north of it that satisfied my criteria for the mansion’s location.
When I looked up where the most innovative research in genetics and biotechnology was being carried out in the U.S., Sorrento Valley in San Diego came out near the top of the list. Its distance from Santa Monica made it a viable location for AuGenD, the fictitious company where Madeleine Black works.
I deliberately chose the name AuGenD to signify Jonah Krondike’s ultimate goal of extending life and his work with the U.S. Army on an advanced human enhancement program aimed at soldiers. The work AuGenD is an anagram of “unaged” and mimics augendae, the latin word for “enhance”. Yes, my brain works in mysterious and often baffling ways…
The concepts of super soldiers and human enhancement are not new ones and have been immortalized in science fiction books, films, and computer games since the middle of the 20th century, with the best example of all being Marvel Comics’ Captain America. Yet, many technological and scientific advancements of recent times originated in fiction. The most visually vivid example for me remains the tablet-like devices used in the Star Trek TV series in the 1970s and our current generation of mobile devices.
Unsurprisingly, governments have been working on human enhancement for military purposes for quite some time, from the clandestine human experimentations that took place in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and Russia during World War II, to the 1950s Project MKUltra, the CIA’s most publicized secret program which was aimed at controlling human behavior.
In fiction, drugs, eugenics, genetic engineering, cybernetic implants, extreme training regimens, and brainwashing are the methods of choice for enhancing humans and producing super soldiers. In real science, human enhancement is already happening with advances in human genetic engineering, nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, neural implants, cybernetics, and brain-computer interfaces coming together to overcome the current limitation of the human body.
In addition to working on an exoskeleton that could be used by soldiers of the future like the one portrayed in the picture on the previous slide (think of the exoskeleton suit in the film G.I. Joe, The Rise of Cobra), DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency attached to the U.S. Department of Defense and responsible for developing new technologies for use by the U.S. military, is actively trying to develop electronic implants that can interface directly with the nervous system and can control and regulate various diseases and conditions. This is in keeping with the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative of the U.S. government.
In the future, medications could be replaced by closed-loop neural implants that constantly assess an organ’s function and provide the necessary nerve stimulation to keep biological systems working at optimum capacity. These devices will be like tiny, intelligent pacemakers for all kinds of organs. You could theoretically regulate all your organs’ function; slow your heart down, turbocharge your liver, improve your concentration. Brain implants that can help a person control a robotic arm with their thoughts already exist. In theory, the possibilities are infinite.
In Legacy, I used a combination of performance enhancing drugs, physical and mental training regimes, and bionanotechnology techniques that allowed the recombination of immortal DNA with human DNA for Jonah Krondike’s work on a human enhancement program for the U.S. military.
When I was looking for a military base in Arizona where the soldiers enrolled in Jonah Krondike’s human enhancement program could have had their initial medical screening, I came across Fort Huachuca, home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command among other divisions of the U.S. military.
Its location and infrastructure made it perfect for infiltration by two immortals hellbent on finding clues to their enemy’s dark plans.
75th Ranger Regiment
The 75th Ranger Regiment is an elite special ops force working under the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. As such, Rangers are among the best trained men and women in the world. With a long history going back more than two hundred years, Rangers have one of the most rigorous training programs of any military force in the world and have a singularly high mission success rate on the battlefield.
Can you tell I’m a little bit in love with them? Like I was with the U.S. Marines in Empire. Now, imagine a story where Rangers, Marines, and immortals get to fight alongside one another…
Yuma Proving Ground
When I realized I had to put Jonah Krondike’s newest super secret research facility in the middle of a desert where he could have access to services provided by the U.S. military, the Yuma Proving Ground came to my mind. As one of the largest military installations in the world, the Yuma Proving Ground serves as a developmental and desert environment testing facility for weapon systems and munitions for the U.S. military, as well providing a desert-like training environment for the U.S. armed forces and its NATO allies. The facility has been used extensively to test anything and everything from battle tanks to long range artillery, from UAVs to attack helicopters, and from aerostats to NASA’s space capsules’ chute systems.
With an area covering almost 1400 square miles, included its own protected airspace, it was plenty big and isolated enough for my plot needs.
Raven Rock Mountain Complex
The Raven Rock Mountain Complex was the inspiration for Jonah Krondike’s secret underground research facility at Yuma. Based six miles from Camp David, the official country retreat of the U.S. president, Raven Rock is also known as Site R and serves as an alternate national command center. It is also known as the “underground Pentagon.”
Raven Rock Mountain Complex floorplan
The floorplan of the underground facility.