From atop an Aztec pyramid, the last of its kind among the ruins of Earth, Huitzilopochtli looked out over a hidden pocket where a small tribe of Aztec people lived. Long ago they had escaped the vengeful arm of the Spanish conquistadors and taken refuge here. If not for the discovery of a miraculous healing plant, they would have died.

Now the war to end the world was coming, despite all of Huitzilopochtli’s efforts to maintain balance among the gods. No one could blame him. As the sun god, he had been constant.

In olden times, people had worshipped him. They had laid on glossy green fields and pristine beaches to soak up his golden touch, even written songs in his honor—”Here Comes The Sun.” That had been in his heyday, the glorious 1960’s.

Oh, what Huitzilopochtli wouldn’t give to turn back the hands of time.

Human beings had ruined the exquisite balance that once kept the world running like a fine-tuned clock. By the end of the twenty-first century with rampant pollution, mindless consumption and the ravages of wars, mankind finally had destroyed the ozone layer that hung like a bride’s veil between sky and earth and caused the Great Meltdown. Huitzilopochtli burned too brightly as a result, and man had grown to hate him and love only war.

A keen blast of heat worked through the sun god at the thought of his polar opposite, Tezcatlipoca, the calamitous god of sorcery who ruled over night and war. The greedy fellow had surpassed his rightful place in the natural order of things.

Huitzilopochtli heaved a heavy sigh. “The girl is our only hope,” he said.

Beside him, his meticulous astrologer studied a large stone calendar, the tonalpolhualli. How many times had he sought the answers to the world’s problems in its carved images? The calendar never lied, although lately he wished it would.

Perhaps if the rains or the wind lasted longer this year, sweet, colorful, happy flowers might run riot. What was the use? The same horrible outcome lurked at the edge of the world like a greedy thief ready to pounce.

“Yes, the war to end the world will come, unless…” The astrologer broke off, wondering if the blond one would adapt into a Jaguar Girl. But what if she and the Jaguar Man failed to form a blessed union? Even then, they might not fulfill expectations.

The sun god finished his aide’s statement in a voice that roiled the air like thunder. “Unless Eden Newman accepts her destiny, all is lost. The whole world will die, and she along with it.”

He lifted his gaze to the clear bank of sky as a majestic condor sailed into view. Its eight-foot wingspan spread like two hands offering a prayer for the world.

Huitzilopochtli’s command struck like a blade of light that cleaved the darkness. “Get her!”