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Ahuitzotl

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AHUITZOTL ("Spiny Aquatic Creature" in nahuatl) is the name of a recurring mythical creature in the Mexica / "Aztec" world view, and also the name of a 15th Century Mexica ruler. The Ahuitzotl's most proeminent features are the spikes on its back and the additional hand on the end of its tail, which it uses to grab people into the water and devour them.

    This illustration, a digital painting I've worked on over a drawing from my latest sketchbook, depicts an important conflict from the story I'm currently working on: the IXIPTLA Mythos (previously titled IN LAK'ECH). IXIPTLA is the nahuatl name for "impersonator", a category of sacrificial victims, usually war captives, who "impersonated" the gods and lived luxurious lives in their last days, during specific seasons and festivities of the Xiuhpohualli (literally "year count", a 365-day calendar used by the Mexica and other Nahua peoples) – before they were sacrificed in the altar. The concept behind the IXIPTLA plays a major role in this story, and that's why I named it this way, besides, it's also heavily influenced by other stuff from pre-hispanic Mexica and Nahua cosmology in general.

TL;DR Version: These are original characters inspired by elements from pre-hispanic Nahua, especially Mexica/"Aztec" cosmology. They're part of my original story project. From top to bottom, left to right, they're:
  • HUITZILOPOCHTLI: ("Hummingbird of the South", named after the Mexica God of War and patron of Mexico) This masked, winged "Cuetzpalin" (nahuatl for "Lizard", in this story a race of beings) is the latest form of the elemental god of wind, considered ancient war god and practically ruler of the realm of Aztlán - that was recently destroyed by a catastrophe caused by our next guest
  • PAYNALTZIN: ("Fast one", named after the messenger, or even ixiptla/impersonator of Huitzilopochtli) The story's protagonist. Armed with a Yaxchilán Spear and the much sought after "Nemontemi Stone", this lizard-man is actually a human, the 15 years old William Mattoni, who has been able to transform himself into a super-fast Cuetzpalin (hence the name Paynaltzin). He's been responsible for the destruction of Aztlán after he used the power of the stone to liberate the ancient being known as Cipactli, that held the world on it's back since ancient times, enduring a torture inflicted by Huitzilopochtli & his minions.
  • AXOLOTL: ("Water Creature", name given to a species of sentient individuals) This individual is a mutated "Ahuitzotl" (a kind of water mammals) who follows the eponymous leader of the pack
  • AHUITZOTL: ("Spiny Aquatic Creature") The one shouting "That Stone is mine", the eponymous leader of the Ahuitzotl. Ironically, he's not an Ahuitzotl, but an ancient Cuetzpalin who has also turned against the Gods of Aztlán, but for different reasons than Paynaltzin's. He intends to collect the Nemontemi Stone and use its power for his own. His design is inspired by a mata mata.

Want to know more? Then READ the story's PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3!
SPOILERS AHEAD!


CUETZPALIN

    A race of reptiles native from AZTLÁN who have also coexisted with distinct human populations of Anahuac ("land between waters", how the Nahua peoples used to describe the world, or at least the American continent, and by which the Aztecs – the inhabitants of Aztlán – use to describe planet Earth) throughout history, up to the time of the spanish invasion and eventual colonization. Most information confirming the existence of these beings has been hunt down and destroyed during this dark period of history, and not only by the invaders who had just set up and imposed their own tyrannical, christian government and ways of life, but also by other enemies of Aztlán, enemies that have resurfaced from the darkness after millennia: the Saqraruna Organization (Saqraruna means "evil people" in quechua).
    Formed by
Yakuruna ("water people") aliens, as well by the dreadful Centzonmimixcoa ("Four Hundred alike the Cloud Serpent" – Cloud Serpent being Mixcoatl, the name by which the peoples of Aztlán referred to an ancient god of Darkness, usually called by his followers as Tupaq) and corrupted sorcerers, scientists, A.I.s, necromancers, undead armies & so on, the Saqraruna Organization's main goal is converting Anahuac, the Earth, into a self-sufficient, Black Hole-powered, artificial mobile satellite of mass destruction, and in doing so, selecting a handful categories of sentient beings to keep living (while terminating others), adapt them to this new lifeless realm, in a proccess called "The Human Automation". This new mobile satellite of mass destruction would be called Topakhon II, after the original "Topakhon", the native planet of the ancient ORS OHORELA ("Legislation of Darkness" in Enochian), a government ruled by Tupaq, that has also witnessed the Automation proccess by the hands of Saqraruna's predecessors, some fifty centuries before our day, in a time which the Aztecs consider to be the distant Second "Sun Era" (just so you know, we and the Mexica from some two or three centuries before the spanish invasion are in the Fifth.

ATL-TLACHINOLLI
    Needless to say, Tupaq's goal is basically the same of the Saqraruna, but more extreme –
after destroying all solar systems with his machine, Tupaq would eliminate all matter in the universe. As the Elemental God of Darkness, and omnipotent & omnipresent in the dimension of Absolute Darkness, he theorized that by accelerating the expansion of the universe (a proccess which may defend the Big Rip doomsday hypothesis) until the destruction of all matter, he'd finally reach a state of complete omnipotence and omnipresence. The very creation of the Centzonmimixcoa, beings made in his image of darkness, who can live beyond matter, even before the conversion of Topakhon into a weapon, has also led Tupaq to pursue such a dreaded goal, besides, they proved some sort of conscious, sentient life could be allowed to exist in a world without matter. Several of his allies and associates, however, didn't know of his objectives, and allied to him either out of fear of Topakhon & the O.O. or for their own gain, like with SPECTRO the director of the Yakuruna corporation whose later generations would develop the Saqraruna.
    In the Darkest Hour, several solar systems have been terminated, and others have been spared at the condition of swearing allegiance to the O.O; yet resistance grew with the organization and collaboration of galactic forces, empires, warlords, ranging from the Voc Empire to the Ohrmuzdian Sultanate, from
the Anunnaki Association of Nibiru to the Jötunn Society, from the Helladean City-states to the Aztec Confederation several of them, headed by other Elemental Gods, a kind of sadistic immortals which used to consider Tupaq a "brother". Either hiding in the figures of mortals as powerheads or as ever-watchful suspicious individuals, most of these "forces of nature" wouldn't easily let one of them overcome the others, and with the lives of innumerable sentient beings in the front lines of war, they'd see it that the Ors Ohorela would fall.
    But it was hard to defeat something like the
Centzonmimixcoa, that can materialize and de-materialize at will, only a specific set of substances could do it – the special green jade known as Yaxchilán (one of the "Five Hidden Elements") and the Atl-Tlachinolli, the blood of ancient giant beings known as Quinametzin, that was also present in the DNA of the Cuetzpalin. Atl-Tlachinolli is named after a Mexica concept which can mean, literally, "burning water", and metaphorically, holy water, blood, warfare and holy war. This combination of Yaxchilán weapons and Cuetzpalin blood (the Aztec culture usually included ceremonial immolation, self-inflicted cutting and bloodletting, which made easier for Cuetzpalin soldiers to carry on these needs) has made the Aztec Confederation one of the most expressive threats to the ORS OHORELA, and ultimately, the one reputed with it's downfall.

NAHUI-ATL
     During the Second Sun Era, the Aztec Confederation kept a colony in Anahuac's Atlantic Ocean –
neighbor to another colony, which inhabitants called Atlantis, in the same sea – the island of Nahui-Atl, that besides the locals, was also inhabited by generations of Vocs (a species of bird-like humanoids that speak in Mayan dialects). This tropical island was covered in jungle, and was home to a variety of city-states kept by hard working individuals, including some immortalized by human memory, like the Cuetzpalin Sobek and the Voc Horus. More than that, the island was surrounded by a greenish water that was actually the Atl-Tlachinolli (in this case, "blood") of a Quinametzin/giant, possibly Coniraya, Audumla or Kukulcan. This gave the island's inhabitants an advantage against the possibilty of a Centzonmimxicoa invasion – it only wouldn't stand a chance if Topakhon reached Earth's Solar System, but before that could ever happen, the colony was working on something to destroy Topakhon once and for all.
    Voc Empire and Aztec Confederation's authorities have put aside possible grievances in order to work on a weapon that could destabilize Topakhon's Black Hole, hopefully sucking its inhabitants into the very Black Hole which used to sustain it.
To do so, however, they'd need to leak intel from O.O.'s ranks, and eventually, lead an operation of invasion into the mobile weapon. This project would result in the legendary Spear of Time, but before that, a special kind of Cuetzpalin directly developed by Huitzilopochtli ("Hummingbird of the South", or alternately "Lefth-handed hummingbird", the War God, Patron of Mexico and the Fifth Sun. In the story of IXIPTLA, a major form of the elemental god of wind, who's the de facto ruler beneath the Aztec Confederation's bureaucrats and gods) himself would carry out the hard work.

  • One of these super powered Cuetzpalin was Tonatiuh, the Sun, who was selected to lead the Cuauhtli (eagle) warriors from the altepetl (city-state) of Tonatiuhichan.
  • The second, Popocatepetl ("Smoking Mountain", or Volcano), would become the leader of the Pipiltin ("noble", albeit literally meaning "son" or "boy") Squad, especialized in highly dangerous missions against the O.O.
  • The third, Ahuitzotl, was named after the kind of creatures found in the swamps of Yayauhco, on Aztlán's underworld. Not part of the Confederation, they were regarded as more savage, despite were skilled and feared magicians, artisans and smiths – related to the Helladean Telkhines, sea mammals famous by crafting mass destruction weapons, and also for hunting down Cuetzpalin. Why? For their Tonalcoatl. A Tonalcoatl – Tonal is a nahuatl concept meaning either day, time, fate, or a vital energy related to the head, brain, and sun's heat. Coatl is the word for Snake – is the first and last stage of a Cuetzpalin's life cycle after the egg, it evolves into the Cuetzpalin's brain, and after its body dies, it detaches as a small snake-like creature able to survive for more years, if it finds a living sentient, usually vertebrate host. From that point onwards, the Tonalcoatl is able to keep a symbiotic life alongside the host, share a telepathic communication, and also grant the host the ability to transform itself into a Cuetzpalin, or the closer it's body allows itself to get to it. The host still keeps in charge of the body, with its consciousness intact, but if it dies, the Tonalcoatl can restore the damaged tissue and take over the host's body. Also, if the host over-uses the power of transformation, the Tonalcoatl will eventually take over its' consciousness and body. In the Aztec culture and festivities, the Cuetzpalin make use of this feature to take advantage of sacrificial humans, impersonating them, taking over their bodies, identities, lives and possessions, sometimes even families. And after they take control of the host's body, they can also switch between human and Cuetzpalin forms – until they die again, usually in battle, but also of old age (a Cuetzpalin can live up to many years in nature). A Cuetzpalin's Atl-Tlachinolli, because it's derived from the Quinametzin's, is highly regenerative, what makes most of them invincible, and one of the most obvious ways of killing them being decapitation (the separation of their body from their Tonalcoatl) – was this a possible reason for the popularization of decapitation in cultures such as the Moche, which inhabited the northern coast of Peru centuries before the Inca? The Cuetzpalin's natural features have all influenced the Aztec ceremonies, and mixed with native Anahuac customs, including that of wearing the skin of sacrificial victims, as well that of the Ixiptla. But despite that, the Cuetzpalin weren't regarded as Teteoh (gods), just another kind of animals/people, one that surely lives longer and are tougher than humans. Either way, the victims of the Aztec Confederation, such as war captives, would surely notice the Cuetzpalin used some of their features as a social privilege – they could take one's life by forcing a parasitic relation with their Tonalcoatl.

     The Ahuitzotl hunted down and captured Tonalcoatl which they combined with hidden elements to use in their own special weapons – the Xiuhcoatl ("Fire Snake", it's said Huitzilopochtli's own was crafted by the Ahuitzotl in ancient times), and that made them feared by the Cuetzpalin. Their origins are tied to the outlandish realm of Helladeas (and ultimately the Telkhines, it's possible they've been brought to Aztlán by Tlaloc, the rain god, who's actually of foreigner origin), and their social organization is unknown to the Aztec Confederation, or at least was, save for the eponymous Cuetzpalin, who studied this race while living in Nahui-Atl, and sometimes, visiting Atlantis (another port of cultural mixture between Aztlán and Helladeas: these islands had portals leading to both realms). Ahuitzotl was tasked with overseeing the research on the Spear of Time in Nahui-Atl, as well studying other elements, including the hidden elements like Yaxchilán. One of these elements, the Darr (enochian for "Philosopher's Stone"), was extensively used by the O.O. because of its properties, that enhanced a necromancer's power, allowing him to use telekinesis and teleportation, and also its ability to convert darkness into a black matter. For those reasons as well, this element was feared by the Aztec Confederation – but not by the "savage" Ahuitzotl.

     Another element of great esteem to Ahuitzotl and the Aztecs alike is the Cozauhqui, that on its' activated form is golden and explosive. Like every other Hidden Element, the Cozauhqui is originated by a single crystal which once was part of a larger crystal, the "Ater Adamantis". The original crystal of Cozauhqui is known as the Nemontemi Stone, named after the five last days of the Xiuhpohualli (nemontemi means hollow days and refer to the fearsome last days of a year, which signaled the possibility of solar eclipses and doomsday in Aztec belief). Besides that, each hidden element's main crystal is actually an entity in sleep, that can be awakened if the crystal is activated, and when that is done, a pact can be dealt between a magician and the entity, in which the entity grants the magician the power to generate weapons and armor out of that element, as well to control and activate it more easily on nature, in exchange of the magician's own "soul" – so whenever the crystal is activated again, by anyone else, the magician loses its consciousness and enter in a state of sleep which lasts until the crystal is deactivated. The entity also gains vital energy whenever the magician who made the pact kill someone, but the entity can forge pacts with a limited quantity of magicians at once – in most cases, the entities prefer to keep forging pacts, so the ones who forged it have to die and give place to new ones.
     The Nemontemi Stone's hidden entity is the dog-like Xolotl, who has first been activated by Xipe Totec, the ancient Aztec priest later elevated into a god, from the realm of Apanoayan, in Aztlán's lowlands. The Nemontemi Stone is usually guarded by Huitzilopochtli's guardians in Aztlán, but when the Ahuitzotl threatened to attain it, it's been transferred by the water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue to Nahui-Atl, where the Confederation's scientists have been given permission to study it. Among them, Ahuitzotl himself. Uncovering the stone's secrets alongside forbidden knowledge of the kind that bears his name, he traced the origins of the hidden elements, finding the key to the Ater Adamantis, the most powerful crystal – seemingly, a quest Huitziopochtli and the other gods cared less. His research on the Ater Adamantis, however, would ultimately lead to the development of the Spear of Time, centuries later, by the hands of the Vocs of Aotearoa (yes, New Zealand). So why didn't the spear has been invented in Nahui-Atl? What happened so it was developed instead on another land, at another time? Ors Ohorela agents, including Centzonmimixcoa, have found out rumours about its development – leaked by the Ahuitzotl, possibly – and led a campaign of Centzonmimixcoa to infest the island. When they've crossed the sea of Atl-Tlachinolli, hope was lost, and Chalchiuhtlicue saw no other way to get rid of the shadowy infestation other than sinking the island into the sea which would devour them – to do so, she used the Nemontemi Stone, which element can cause explosive earthquakes (an important fact: the Fifth Sun Era, which means ours, is said to end by earthquakes). Eventually, the island was destroyed, many died alongside the Centzonmimixcoa, some escaped death by leaving through the portal to Aztlán, or setting sail to elsewhere on Anahuac (what includes Atlantis, in the East, or the Caribbean, on the West). What none exactly expected is that this Quinametzin blood which bathed Nahui-Atl, or rather it's ruins, is an interdimensional portal itself, and the usage of the Nemontemi Stone didn't exactly destroyed the island, it just set it inside another dimension – a dimension within the Chaos dimension, from where not only this Atl-Tlachinolli derives, but the Centzonmimixcoa do, too. In other words, Nahui-Atl was stranded in a reality between Earth and Aztlán: it's like it was still somewhere near the Sargassus Sea at the Atlantic Ocean, but at the same time, wasn't: no one could reach it, or cross through the mists that like an unseen force field pushed people out – or in, to the unlucky ones, for Nahui-Atl became a savage land, with ruins of another time, as well a route for slavers travelling from Anahuac to Aztlán – most, if not all of them, with an apettite for flesh. For the forces of the Aztec Confederation to realize such outcome, however, it took some time. The Spear of Time's specs have been carried to safety by the escaping Voc, but there was a Cuetzpalin left behind – certainly not Sobek, who followed alongside some Ahuitzotl to south from Kemet – Ahuitzotl.
    Ahuitzotl has been left in the interdimensional island alongside a pack of the eponymous creature which his kind has always feared, yet, his knowledge on the hidden elements was superior, and after a match against their "alpha", he earned the trust of that pack, and his next stop was returning to Aztlán. When he was finally able to do so, he'd find out he wouldn't be elevated into godhood, get the
Nemontemi Stone for his own, or even to grant citizenship for his pack, instead, he was forsaken and cast into the wilderness of the underworld's swamps – still, from there he'd uncover more secrets about the Cuetzpalin and the gods themselves. Not so far, the O.O. would finally be destroyed for the first time, Tupaq and the Centzonmimixcoa, alongside the inhabitants of Topakhon, or at least most of them, would be dragged violently into nothingness after the "heroic" Cuetzpalin Popocatepetl of the Pipiltin squad used the Spear of Time to destabilize Topakhon's Black Hole – taking him some hundred years to get back home. Ahuitzotl knew how the Cuetzpalin themselves were of practically no value to the gods, and how Huitzilopochtli hid his interests from others, yet he also knew the time for the O.O. seemed over, and if he ever wanted to take Aztlán's goods and mysteries for him, he should do it with a side of his own rather than siding with other figures as corrupting as Huitzilopochtli.

NAHUI-EHECATL
    Ahuitzotl's kind would witness several ages of Aztlán after the so-called "Topakhon Wars": The Ice Age, caused by the invasion of the Jötunn, in which he and his eponymous followers have sided with Aztlán to prevent the extinction of his own kind, finally succeeding in expulsing the Jötunn and their leader,
Ymir (a.k.a Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli during the Second Sun Era and Itztacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli in the Third). In the proccess of rebuilding Aztlán, the Ahuitzotl have earned their place in Aztec society, and they've also employed people from the far away lands of Kemet (or "Tlillan-Tlapallan", the "Red and Black Place in the East", a.k.a the place of dawn, "Tlahuiztlampa"), led by people such as Ahuitzotl's former best buds Sobek, and the dreadful Xiuhtecuhtli ("Fire Lord", name by which the aztecs referred to the Elemental God of Fire, Lapolakh). Xiuhtecuhtli's interests were somewhat unique, however, and he used his influence to turn Aztlán into something else, where the Ahuitzotl took a major participation: the foundation of a dreadful galactic authority called the Xiuhcoatl Empire, marking the Third Sun Era, and a new age of cooperation between Aztlán and the city of Teotihuacan ("City of the Gods"), a metropolis from Anahuac. The Xiuhcoatl Empire produced several Xiuhcoatl weapons, forcing the reproduction of more Cuetzpalin, in order to "rebuild Aztlán" (that was supposedly weakened since the Ice Age), but indeed, it was following Xiuhtecuhtli's agenda: of creating a galactic network of foundries and slavers. It took some time, but the Empire has been finally fractured by rebellions sparking from within, either in Anahuac, Aztlán, or other affected areas and colonies. During this time, Ahuitzotl took advantage of his position in order to forge a pact with Xolotl, finally earning for him and his current ixiptla (host/body) the powers of the Cozauhqui element. Too bad, however, more of the main crystals weren't available. But the stone has been lost, it has been stolen by Xbalanque ("Jaguar Deer", one of the Maya Hero Twins, from the time of the Topakhon Wars, alongside his brother Hunahpu, they were human warriors in service of Huitzilopochtli – or rather another form of his, whom they knew as Huraqan – who turned against him after learning the truth about the Quinametzin genocide, the ancient great war between elemental gods and the giants. They've been missing for centuries, but apparently, they found different fruits of immortality, and while Hunahpu was in Anahuac, Xbalanque was in the realm of Lamat (a.k.a "Sothis"), before returning to Aztlán to lead a fatal blow against the Xiuhcoatl Empire), at the time a rebel leader, who used Xolotl's power to destroy Ahuitzotl's forces.

    After the collapse of the Xiuhcoatl Empire, Xiuhtecuhtli's party has severed ties with Aztlán, and soon enough the Ahuitzotl would be forced to do so – not before the Ahuitzotl attempted to take over other city-states from upper regions of Aztlán, in the beginning of the Fourth Sun Era, when another super-powered Cuetzpalin,
Ehecatl, known in Anahuac as Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, the founder of the city-state of Tollan (that'd become the capital of the Toltec Confederation, establishing the 4th Sun Era), has come to Aztlán, where he defeated Ahuitzotl, and expulsed his followers to the underworld, that was separated from the "upper regions" by a thick mist gathered by gods, including Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. Stranded into the underworld, and pursuing elements he'd never find in Aztlán, Ahuitzotl started to work on a portal that'd bring him and his followers back to Anahuac. Throughout the fourth and fifth sun eras, Ahuitzotl has gathered allies in both realms, and also made use of Nahui-Atl's forbidden, interdimensional route, in search for the Nemontemi Stone. Eventually, the stone would return to the hands of the Aztec Teteoh. But sometime in the Fifth Sun Era – precisely January 2010 –, all would change. Word is that someone has destroyed Aztlán completely.

IZCALLI
    Starting in August 8th 2008, a new Cuetzpalin started to roam Anahuac, or more precisely, a series of jungles and towns in the outskirts of the northwestern States of Brazil. This Cuetzpalin would be known, months later, by the name it claimed to have: Paynaltzin (or alternately Paynal, or Paynalton), the nahuatl name for "fast", also used to refer to the messenger of the war god Huitzilopochtli, or even his ixiptla. Faster than a bullet, Paynaltzin soon became a threat to all hunters, landlords, or people involved with logging, animal exploitation (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, fishing, fur industries, animal testing and so on) in the area, and after some time, the continent. His inhuman identity sparked countless conspiracy theories, and his actions - ranging from sabotage to destruction of property, assassination, all for the liberation of animals, to let them free and out of harm - have ignited the union between repressive states and their armies in operations that involved armies patrolling cities in and outside Brazil. This self-proclaimed anarchist has inspired more people to rise up, but also inspired the opposition to grow, what matters is that he's made quite a change, and people still didn't know who or what he really was.
    The Cuetzpalin Paynaltzin is the symbiotic union between 14 (later 15 as the story progresses) years old William Mattoni and the Tonalcoatl of the late Mexica ruler Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (from the time the Spanish first invaded Mexico). Moctezuma is one of the latest super-powered in vitro Cuetzpalin, in his age he had super speed, just as "Paynaltzin" does now. Moctezuma has been kept dormant, though alive for centuries in a lake of Atl-Tlachinolli, and by chance has found and saved the drowning William, who had been shot by farmers after trying to "steal" (read it as liberate) some chickens from their area. Their goals are quite different, Moctezuma, who believed he'd find the paradise of warriors or follow the path of the sun after dying in battle, has seen this opportunity as a second chance to reclaim his kingdom of Mexico, while William is a vegan anarchist loosely influenced by the critique of speciesism, mass society, industrial civilization, hierarchy and social organization in general. That makes him the enemy of many, including clowns from both left and right partisans, but what matters is his will power - and the power to transform into a super-fast lizardman, of course. In no time, the former ruler and the fresh anarchist have made peace with their own minds, and continued to destroy the bureaucrats of the world, taking advantage of the fact that William could turn back to his human form at any time. After them, other Cuetzpalin, a race unknown to mankind since the 17th Century, started to pop out in modern times: Omepaynal in central Brazil, Montezuma (named after the actual Moctezuma, who was living in William) in North America and Cuauhtemoc in Europe. Both their Tonalcoatl and ixiptla had distinct inclinations, but the names they've adopted were all rooted in the nahua hopes that the colonial management (and the "post-colonial" illusion of capitalism) would end, and autonomy to the indigenous peoples would be restablished. Eventually, the four of them have become allies in a greater war, when they discovered that the secret Saqraruna Organization, hiding beneath the bureaucracy of the Republic of Tahuantinsuyu wasn't only directly involved with the termination of the Cuetzpalin in the last centuries, but also that they kept some Cuetzpalin survivors as remotely controlled unconscious cyborg war machines, part of the organization's of their own armies. They've worked to break them free, and after a gigantic struggle, have managed to "resurrect" the Cuetzpalin
Itzquauhtzin, Quappiatl, Petlálcatl, Cacamatzin, Cuitlahuac, Matlatzincatzin, besides some more sixty Cuetzpalin, who were kept in stasis conservation by the Saqraruna for centuries. Like Moctezuma & the other Tonalcoatl (Cuauhtemoc, supposedly his nephew; Macoel, a former Mexica soldier & brother in arms who left the army to become a defender of the Taino people; and Ichtaca, a self-proclaimed young Mexica warrior), these Cuetzpalin would face hardships living again after some centuries, but the living ixiptla like William, Powhatan (Montezuma), Ian (Omepaynal) and Iñaki (Cuauhtemoc) would try to conciliate their own needs with those that were slowly becoming the closest thing they could consider allies: some indigenous peoples like the Yaminawa, Huni Kuin and Tupari in Brazil, Ashaninka and Mapuche in Tahuantinsuyu, Argentina & Chile, the Kogi in Colombia, Pipil, Purepecha, Otomi, Maya and Nahua at El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, the Hopi, Zuni, Yuchi in America, and the Secwepemc, Algonquians in Canada. These populations have been resisting foreigner oppression and the forced inclusion into a global domination system for centuries, and despite they differ in several ways from each other, creating a grassroots resistance movement, even an armed one, requires a mutual aid alongside each and every individual in such a fringe situation. Their situation, by the way, is something which Paynaltzin believed would inspire solidarity from the Cuetzpalin - who couldn't even be seen by human peoples, who would otherwise activate authorities to persecute and jail, if not killing them, framing them as "aliens", unaware that they're, like humans, like every other sentient animal - whether or not their communications differ.

    But none of those Cuetzpalin who have been living in modern times through their latest ixiptla could assure the other Cuetzpalin would find the same cooperation. Not so long after their resurrection, on the northern regions of South America (precisely, the Yaminawa territories, bordering Brazil & Antisuyu, and the Kogi territory, in norther Colombia), Cuetzpalin Petlálcatl, Matlatzincatzin and some more have met few individuals from another kind of communicative non-humans who claimed to have come from Aztlán (that for Mexica people like those Cuetzpalin, was the mythical realm from their ancestors): the Centzontotochtin ("Four Hundred Rabbits", a race of humanoid rabbits) Macuiltochtli, who introduced himself as an antrepeneur, and who explained that some Centzontotochtin from Aztlán still kept contact with humans from Anahuac, using a portal in the Kogi (Tairona, in pre-hispanic times) realm which linked both worlds. The portal, according to him, was crafted by the Ahuitzotl. Paynaltzin knew of another portal, hid beneath Mitla (Lyobaa), in the territory of the Zapotecs (as they're called by the Mexica, their self designation is "Ben 'Zaa", meaning "Cloud People"), but that portal linked Earth to Aztlán's underworld - Aztlán's upper realms were linked to the portal of the Kogis. He had never reached Aztlán by himself, the portal was only activated by some rather shadowy associates of Saqraruna (one of them, another Centzontotochtin, the wealthy Ometochtli, whose profitable activities included slave trading and drug dealing, especially those of alien origin). Macuiltochtli invited Petlálcatl, Matlatzincatzin and all the other Cuetzpalin to come to Aztlán and live worthy lives there, alongside many more nahuatl speaking Cuetzpalin. There was lot of suspicion in his words - it seemed like most of the Aztec population was separated from Anahuac for centuries, so how come Macuiltochtli was used to these travels between realms, and how did he make a living? To get worse, in that period, several Tapirapé individuals from central Brazil went missing, and Paynaltzin's investigations led him to some rather non-human captors, bounty hunting demons hired by church and government authorities. Did they have any connection to the Centzontotochtin? One way or another, the only way to find out was going to Aztlán - but make sure to get back. The same couldn't be said to the Cuetzpalin they had just freed, they'd surely adjust better in Aztlán than in Anahuac. In order to deal with Paynaltzin, Macuiltochtli has also extended his invitation to the indigenous peoples those Cuetzpalin were supposed to protect, as if in Aztlán they'd live any better than in Anahuac: leaving their home was the last option, if it even was an option, but still, just as the Cuetzpalin, some people have accepted the offer, what wasn't seen in a good way by Paynaltzin & his allies, who rather than turning back on Anahuac, sought to stand there, build a resistance, and fight.

ITZTLACOLIUHQUI-IXQUIMILLI
    The reasons behind Macuiltochtli's invitation weren't completely clear before they've arrived and spent some days in the altepetl ("city-states") of upper Aztlán - since the fourth Sun Era, the underworld was separated by a thick mist and could never be reached. Either way, both societies developed separately and in a certain way autonomously, without needing to get anything from each other. Still, the people from "the surface" forgot completely what was down there & vice versa, they didn't even refer to it as the underworld, unless they had some metaphysical, religious beliefs. In truth, if someone was curious to get there, Cuetzpalin or human, they'd likely die, if not in the fall, at the hands of the vicious beasts inhabiting it. In a similar manner, nothing from the underworld could possibly climb all the way to the surface. Aztlán's bureaucrats were the teoixiptla - the impersonators of gods, individuals who were chosen time after time to become the next hosts to specific gods, who presided over specific matters and ruled from specific city-states. Each city-state sent its own soldiers into actual war competitions, where matters such as discussion for the usage of resources in a specific area were held. In other words, a city only conquered rights to use some water or jungle in another area if it defeated another city that showed interest in the same area. If, after a certain time, another city showed interest on that area again, another competition was held. In Aztec society, war isn't just a reserved profession, it's a way of life. The Teoixiptla exchanged bodies from time to time, and wore faces of people whom the people recognized, and who were "honored to become the next host to a god". Even among gods, however, there was a certain hierarchy, and arguably, Huitzilopochtli, from the city of Yaoyotepetl was one of the most influent. Others were Tlaloc, from Nahui Quiahuitl, and Tonatiuh, from Tonatiuhichan. The Centzontotochtin lived in the desert regions of Patemalinalli, led by the couple Patecatl & Mayahuel, patron of the medicines and patroness of the alcoholic drinks, respectively. This was the first city where the Cuetzpalin arrived (William, the human behind Paynaltzin, used some days of his vacations to live in this not so "alien" realm, that looked like a fantasy written from a pre-hispanic Nahua perspective). Within a week, meeting more people, and understanding the particularities of this society (that despite different, and at first sight better than global capitalism, also had its own bureaucracies and unjust traditions, also involving speciesist practices), Paynaltzin finally discovered the reasons Macuiltochtli brought so many people there: they were going to fight a war, as slave warriors, against the invading armies of the Einherjer. The Einherjer are a special group within the Jötunn Society, a secret organization which derives directly from the Second Sun Era's group based in the now destroyed planet of Jötunheimr. After Jötunheimr's destruction during the Topakhon Wars, the Jötunn who survived were guided by their leader, Ymir, to colonize other planets - Earth (Midgard) and Aztlán, the later causing the Ice Age of Aztlán which almost destroyed the Cuetzpalin species. On Earth, the Jötunn settled in the arctic circle, and from there reached other continents, in northern Canada and Europe, settling bases where ancient scandinavian peoples would reach for some time, and from their relations of peace and war, sign a treaty between humans and Jötunn: The Jötunn, thirsty meat eaters, would receive a certain quantity of victims each season, as long as they didn't leave their caves. This treaty was kept for centuries, until the kowledge of the Jötunn's existence became reserved to the "Asgardian loyalty", and, during the Kalmar Union, to a secret society within the bourgeois circles of Europe: the Novus Civilizatio. Because of the human overpopulation, the Jötunn's demands grew, and the NC has shifted some of their policies: they invested on the slavery and capture of certain "races" ("indigenous, black, non-white") for the Jötunn, to spare their own kind, and populate the Earth only with their "race", their "language" and their "reason". The Novus Civilizatio defends the myth of the Western Society, and is behind the scenes a close associate to the Jötunn Society, which goals are eugenist in principle. But how come the Jötunn know of Aztlán, or have reached Aztlán, after so many centuries, and why do they bother attacking it or capturing the Cuetzpalin?
    Ymir, the Jötunn leader, has witnessed during the Topakhon Wars how the Cuetzpalin benefitted from their inheritance of the Quinametzin (giants, not the Jötunn, but an elder kind of self-sufficient beings which elemental gods like him have mostly terminated in ancient times). They're not self-sufficient, like all sentient beings they have flaws and need food, but if they manage to use their Tonalcoatl in the right ways, they can take as many hosts as they want and live forever, what's best, they are cold blooded at birth, but their symbiosis allow them to become hybrids, and turn into warm blooded if they use a mammal as a host. More than that, their blood can be used to defeat the Centzonmimixcoa and they can regenerate even brain tissue at a faster rate than most creatures. Ymir knew Huitzilopochtli had a hand on their evolutionary proccess, and that he was employing Quinametzin properties on them. This fiendish god of frost wanted to usurp the wind god's creation (despite Huitzilopochtli is usually referred to as the God of War by the mortals, his brothers knows his older names, such as Huraqan or U Kux Kah, and know of his actual properties - not a so self-sufficient life-giving, life-taking entity, but mostly an usurping, life-taking immortal, like other "brothers", Ymir included) for long. Yet, while the Einherjer may have been educated under Ymir's views, they are independent, and decided to attack Aztlán once again out of their own will. Actually, these shapeshifters have been triggered by the reveal of more Cuetzpalin living on Earth, where there were supposed to be none left - The Saqraruna Organization isn't the only group that benefitted from the Cuetzpalin extinction on Earth, the Jötunn Society also took part of it, alongside their associates the Novus Civilizatio. Indeed, the Jötunn intended to have all Cuetzpalin sent to their slave pits, the underground realm of Hel, beneath northern norway's glaciers. They've partially succeeded, but as it seemed, the Cuetzpalin were resurfacing again, and that prompted the Einherjer to approach things more violently, so that the non-aggression pact between Ymir and Huitzilopochtli lost sense. Some of these shape-shifting Einherjer live as humans, some of them like Erysichthon and Sigurd have met Cuauhtemoc and Paynaltzin during their struggle against the status quo. They've failed to capture these Cuetzpalin, and in October 2009, they've realized many more Cuetzpalin "escaped into the surface" - hinting that willingly or not, the Jötunn did cooperate with the dreaded Saqraruna. Erysichthon has a particular distaste for the Atl-Tlachinolli substance, which he considers to be "the vital energy of the Quinametzin" - when he was still human, on his way escaping his homeland at Thessaly, and following far north towards the territory of germanic tribes, he's experienced the destruction caused by some local "Quinametzin" (known by other names there, some like Lesovik or Jentilak) against farmers and so on. These Quinametzin were like forces of nature sent to chastise mankind, like he was, cursed by a wood nymph (a being related to the Quinametzin, this nymph could be considered an "elf", that's still composed by Atl-Tlachinolli) after cutting a sacred grove in 8th Century B.c Thessaly.

SEPARATION ANXIETY
   
Huitzilopochtli's welcoming and congratulations of Paynaltzin into Aztlán were fake, and William realized he was being used as a pawn in a war he didn't even know was being fought. Moctezuma, however, didn't really care, and wanted William to fight, in this distant realm, against some enemies he was more or less used to. He knew the Einherjer were part of an enslaving conspiracy, but as it seemed, so were the Cuetzpalin of Aztlán - not the noble creatures Moctezuma made a picture of. Still, that didn't matter, sentient beings don't need to be innocents in order to have their will to live right respected. Yet, something was off, and even Moctezuma's goals became confusing for William to understand. Eventualy, Paynaltzin joined the Aztec army in the fight against the Jötunn - both sides had dragons, dinosaurs, fantastic creatures in their armies. Some Cuetzpalin even sported wings, what made William wonder if he'd ever be able to fly.
    On a fateful battle, Erysichthon has captured Paynaltzin and extracted his Tonalcoatl from William's body, saying he'd thank him for what he's done, separating Moctezuma from William, and throwing William away into the underworld - he'd die, if not saved by a flying reptile, who placed him in (not so) safe ground - the Yayauhco swamps at the underworld (Mictlán), just one of its several realms. Throughout the swamps, William discovered - but couldn't explain how - he still could transform into a Cuetzpalin, and then back into human, even without a Tonalcoatl (Moctezuma). Not all was lost, but still, he had to make his way back to Anahuac, if he ever hoped to live in a society again. At Yayauhco, he met an old man, a nomad who claimed to be Xbalanque, whom he acknowledged to be named after the Maya Hero Twin from mythology. Eventually, Xbalanque earned his trust, as he told him the Giant Crocodile he saw while falling was real, her name's Cipactli, and she was alive, yet trapped and suffering for millennia at the hands of Huitzilopochtli, who despite people thought to be "a god like the others", is actually an older entity, the life-taking god who has to be stopped. Xbalanque has himself some special powers - derived from the Nemontemi Stone - but he needed the stone to be taken from its guardian, Popocatepetl, in the volcano at the Teotlatlauhco deserts (where a ruined temple of the Xiuhcoatl Empire Era still existed, and was full of Xiuhcoatl snakes roaming its dusty halls) - he should also make sure not to cross the path of Xolotl, if he ever saw it.
    As the war between Aztlán and the Einherjer raged in the surface, William, who still called himself Paynaltzin, even after losing his "friend", was messing with the Aztec authorities closer to the underworld, and helping Xbalanque in finding a way to liberate Cipactli from her torment - even if that'd cause the torment of many more, what matters is an individual sentient being, right? Not all the others profitting from it's suffering. A grave crime against the Confederation, that was witnessed by gods such as Xipe Totec. Paynaltzin and Xbalenque finally released the huge crocodile, who seemed to thank them the way she could, before diving freely into the dark vastness of space's ocean, after millions of years trapped in stone. As for Aztlán, that was built on the tree growing from her back, it was completely destroyed, even though the Einherjer leaders had finally been captured. As it all looked like, and as the Aztec authorities put it, "the Einherjer were a distraction for the gravest crime, committed by the hand of Xbalanque and a fake Paynaltzin". Huitzilopochtli needed resources to rebuild his domain, and Ymir would answer for this affront. In order to spare the Einherjer, Ymir would have the Jötunn Society working for the Aztec Confederation: several of the slaves they kept in Hel should be sent to Aztlán, but for that any to get in, at once and in secrecy, they should use another portal - not Mitla, on Mexico, or the portal at the Kogi citadel in Colombia, they'd sail through Nahui-Atl - the mysterious island which time seem to have forgotten. As for William, he and Xbalanque returned to Anahuac via the Mitla portal. They'd rejoin with other allies, other Cuetzpalin, and see how Aztlán's outcome would affect Anahuac. When a note is wrong, the entire symphony goes wrong, so this deal between the Jötunn and Aztecs has leaked to some of their associates - the Novus Civilizatio and the Saqraruna finally knew, after many years, that there was an interdimensional island that could be reached from a certain point between the Bermuda Triangle and the Sargassus Sea. What did this island have, who lived there, they didn't know. But the Aztec Confederation needed a lot of slaves to compensate for Cipactli's liberation, while the Einherjer were unwilling to lose their own. Using their associates to make a distraction, the Einherjer would accordingly send slaves from Hel - and more, freshly captured slaves from Africa, Southeast Asia and South America - to Nahui-Atl, where Aztec authorities - some of them, Cuetzpalin whom Paynaltzin & the others had just resurrected! How ironic that is?! - would then carry them into Aztlán, or better yet, have them killed in a special device beneath Nahui-Atl, that would convert their vital energies into endless food for hungry Huitzilopochtli (Xbalanque didn't call him life-taker vampire for nothing). It wasn't really about collective needs - reforming the Aztec civilization, feeding the Jötunn, it was all for the individual needs of some - Huitzilopochtli, Ymir, Tupaq - masked as the collective ones - "Aztlán", "humanity", "the people".

MISSION: ATLANTIS
    After some time, in 2010, Paynaltzin and the few ones he could take for allies, have realized the slavers' routes were changing, and that Aztlán's outcome was finally affecting Earth, as traditional enemies of theirs, the private military AXIS Institute (a bounty-hunter academy which owns the super-powered Alpha-Omega armors and employs agents worldwide) was sent as "an additional security" to a "classified mission of UN's armed forces" in "an anomalous territory identified at the Atlantic Ocean" where "pirates and slave-traders are reportedly trading people". Paynaltzin & his allies know best, though: the UN and NATO have never remotely cared for human rights, their deal is profit and sponsorship, kill the poor for the rich, they're joining bounty hunters (call it private security, if you prefer) to merely alter the slave trading, not to the hands of the Aztec Confederation, but back to Hel. They didn't know of the Novus Civilizatio yet, however they've come to realize AXIS, NATO and UN's troops were merely pawns of a larger play, that included giving the slaves which the Jötunn were supposed to use as a payment for the Aztec Confederation back to the Jötunn. AXIS' personnel really believed they would rescue people, but all that they'd do was sending them to jail (some that were from indigenous communities located in areas of interest for industrial, livestock or electric energy projects sponsored by local authoritarian governments - what a better way to eliminate them, if not promoting their own "salvation", and using bounty hunters as heroes?), so Paynaltzin and his allies, including Xbalanque, other Cuetzpalin allied to the indigenous, and even Zapatista related forces had to move in first.
    AXIS has launched Mission: Atlantis, one of their largest and most ambitious yet, into the unknown. Their vehicle has crashed ashore, and several agents survived, but were stranded into this outlandish territory that looked like a Jurassic or Cretacean scenario with jungle covered Aztec ruins, and they lost communication with the rest of the world. Some agents panicked and went astray into the wilderness, others sought to "fulfill their rescue mission", but they were spotted by and considered enemies by the Aztec forces - part of them, led by Moctezuma, in a new body! What could explain how he got a new body for his own that fast?! There's something about the nature of the Cuetzpalin that all seemed to be missing... Hunt down and with no chance, earth's mightiest heroes would die at the hands of Aztlán's fierce, cold-blooded non-human shock troops. The Aztec forces realized that UN, NATO and AXIS were at the same side of the Jötunn, even though these humans didn't know (and the Jötunn didn't care for their lives), and as such they've realized the Jötunn didn't want to send them the slaves, so yet another conflict had to be settled on the island. To get worse, in this humid green hell, Saqraruna forces and Centzonmimixcoa have arrived, and set operations which fought with extreme prejudice against the Cuetzpalin, human & Jötunn alike - their intention was to destroy this Atl-Tlachinolli filled island, like they did with the island of Bermeja, in the Millennium - an event witnessed by Jacob Mills, one of Paynaltzin's allies, who uses a stolen AXIS tech, the GAMMA suit. In a war with not so blurred sides, those willing to actually free the slaves remain anonymous, until they're judges by the war God as NECOC YAOTL - "Enemies of Both Sides"! But will the Necoc Yaotl be able of getting past all their enemies, including the legions of Ahuitzotl under the guidance of their eponymous leader, an ancient alchemist and brutal warrior?

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Comments4
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SulaimanDoodle's avatar
Brutal looking characters, love their designs.
ERA-7's avatar
Pretty awesome work! Have a nice day!
Guiler-717's avatar
Thanks! Have a nice day, you too