Her name is Salia. She's a preacher of the Word, a prophetess of doom, and a dangerously talented sorceress with a very big secret: she knows who unleashed the Tar Baby bacterium that suddenly destroyed all the world's oil in 2017, and why they did it. Now, twenty years later, after the wars have ended and the remaining pockets of civilization have learned to make do with lesser forms of energy, she's ready to bring back the oil—to power a new theocracy.
But there's a problem. The final key to her sinister scheme lies hidden in the isolated mountain town of Purgatory, Colorado. And the outlaw Salia is not welcome there.
Quantum physicist Jack Vara is also headed for Purgatory, to take over the estate of his recently deceased father, Carlos Herrera. What Jack doesn't know is that Carlos chose to die by his own hand rather than reveal to Salia the location of the COTO protocol she needs to carry out her plans. And now the only remaining clue lies buried deep in the mind of a man with a damaged brain.
Salia's quest gains urgency when, against all expectations, Silas Teague awakens from a semi-vegetative state and disappears into the night before Salia can scour his newly mended mind. And no one, not even his gifted twin sister, Jennifer, knows where he's headed.
Will the oil ever flow again? Should it? These questions are decided by a preternatural melding of science and sorcery when Silas returns from the ruins of Old Denver with protocol in hand. There he find himself side by side with Jack, Jennifer and a handful of Carlos Herrera partisans in a standoff against Salia and her minions in one of the most dangerous and peculiar places on earth.