The darker side of Defiance rears its ugly head when a plague comes to call.
Irathients: the untouchables of the Votan races. To the Castithans, they are animals–disease incubators who rarely get sick but constantly infect others. In the case of the plague, Castithans are immune…but humans are not.
As the sick lay dying in tents and the Earth Republic sets up a quarantine, the town council votes to intern the Irathients in the mines. Rafe and his men round them up; Irisa puts up a fight, allowing a few to escape. Behind a wire fence, they pray…only to have a bigoted human miner interfere. She comes inside, disrupting their prayer circle and knocking over their totems. A fight ensues, and an Irathient named Rathus is killed.
It is a scene reminiscent of many of the darker moments in our own history, where people have been locked away due to the paranoia of others. “It’s for their own good,” the Castithans and humans say; with tensions running so high, the Irathients are likely to become victims of hate crimes. But the barrier isn’t a wall to protect them; it’s a fence to keep them out.
Connor and Nolan drive to the city limits, trying to reach a cure that was airdropped from San Francisco. They’re blocked by a squadron of soldiers from the Earth Republic…and Ambassador Tennety. Tennety demands that the soldiers shoot the pair, but the colonel in charge intervenes. They may pick up the medicine, so long as the soldiers keep the pair in their sights at all times.
During their road trip, Nolan asks Connor if he cheated on Amanda. After much evasion, he finally reveals the truth: Amanda had an abortion and didn’t tell him until after the fact.
Back in Defiance, Nicky lures Quentin into her snare. If he hands over the device, she’ll tell him where his mother really is. He balks; his mother’s dead. But Nicky persists, and Quentin caves. Nicky reveals that his mother was bipolar. Following the Pale War, many medications stopped production, and without her lithium, Pilar succumbed. For a time, Datak and Nicky were able to procure her medication on the black market, but eventually the drugs stopped working. One morning, Rafe found Pilar buttering her child’s bread with rat poison. He nearly killed her, but Nicky–with whom he’d been having an affair–intervened.
The plague wracks Nolan’s body as he drives back into town. He refuses to be treated until the others have their medicine, but spikes in the road halt the car. A group of escaped Irathients knock them out and take them hostage; only when the other Iraths–particularly Rathus–are freed will they let them go.
Christy and Amanda both fall ill. Crying, Alak places a wedding ring on his fiancee’s finger. With the mayor out of commission, her duties are passed on to Rafe…but Stahma, ever the opportunist, uses Christy’s illness to her advantage. She demands that Rafe be left alone…and seizes the opportunity for her husband to take over as acting mayor. Datak agrees to meet the Irathients’ demands.
He greets the Irathients with the medicine and tells them of Rathus’ death. Datak claims that he blames the humans, and that the plague is actually a blessing; it will cleanse the population and leave Earth for the Votan races. He throws the medicine outside and offers to destroy it, but his minion is waiting with a sniper rifle. Datak kills the remaining Irathients, bludgeoning the last one and yelling racist obscenities. He apologizes to Connor for his actions…then shoots the ERep Ambassador. “I’m sorry you had to see that,” he says to the corpse. “It doesn’t fit my narrative.” Fortunately, Nolan is unconscious, and Datak has no reason to kill him too.
As the plague victims recover, the town resumes its normal activities. Against his father’s protests, Quentin leaves for Mendocino to find his mother. Amanda and Datak address the city over the radio, but Datak hijacks the microphone and declares his candidacy for mayor.
As the rain pours over Defiance, Nicky awaits a visit from her final co-conspirator. Doc Ywel is one of her old allies, although it seems that she has left the cause…or at least discontinued her work with Nicky and Birch over their reckless actions. Nicky asks her to return, and tells Ywel that she’s finally gotten her hands on one of the kolovan–specifically the golden knot. Ywel demands that Nicky destroy it, but she refuses.
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