Rynn, the Irath who almost hellbugged the whole town to death, heads to prison in Las Vegas - a fitting locale for a post-apocalyptic prison, since so many celebrities have been stuck there for years. Nolan is mixing business with business and riding the same transport bus as her - he and Amanda have to deliver a suitcase full of cash to a contractor in Calexico who's going to build a railroad line through their fair town. Take that, Earth Republic! We don't need your protection, and Rafe McCawley will not be massaging your feet. But the real stinking shtako of the trip is that Ambassador Tennety, an E Rep official who's been pressuring Amanda to align with them, will be on the bus with them with her two husbands. An all day bus ride with a prisoner and a snooty public official! What could be better? Oh yeah, no air conditioning. Ah, the glamorous life of a mayor!
Everybody loads onto the bus. Creepy preacher who's nosing around the restricted area? Check. The town's hopes and dreams contained in a single briefcase? Check. A violent prisoner who snags a pen to use as a lock pick? Check. Let's go to Calexico!
Irisa stays behind to keep order in the town with Tommy, but no sooner does she wish Nolan goodbye, but she spies a man that sends her fainting, and not in a good way. It's a Castithan sporting a Rock Hudson haircut - maybe she just doesn't like short hair on the fairest race...
Or, more likely, the man conned her parents into delivering their young daughter to his stewardship so that he could prepare her to be the avatar of some goddess of birth and death. Maybe that preparation involved restraining her wrists so tightly that she bled while a poisonous snake stalked and bit her. Maybe her parents patiently watched the whole thing, and the only reason she's here today is that Nolan showed up and shot the onlookers while the main perp got away. Based on the fact that Irisa knocks the Castithan out cold, then binds and gags him in a basement while she tortures the truth out of him, it's probably the latter. Plus, Irisa LOVES short hair on anyone. Duh.
After a touchy conversation where Nolan correctly guesses that Amanda has been burned in matters of love (maybe the reason why she left her job in New York with the Earth Republic to live in a city with a shortage of scotch?), the bus gets hijacked. The creepy preacher who was poking around where he didn't belong is actually an armed bandit aided by several more who arrive on rollers. They clock the briefcase full of cash, then tell the good ambassador that they know she's carrying, too. After they shoot one of her husbands, she hands over a "scrip chip," the tiny pre-paid ATM card of the future, but in the exchange, Nolan sees a window of opportunity and gets off a lucky shot at the preacher, who takes Tennety hostage before Amanda has a chance to shut and lock the bus doors against the bandits.
Conniving as Tennety is, Amanda can't just let her die in the desert, and moves to deliver the cash to the preacher man. Nolan stops her and talks strategy, which Rynn notes is brave but foolish. Nolan agrees, but what is he gonna do, NOT be gallant? He replaces most of the scrip with bibles and carries the suitcase out the front door of the bus while Amanda sneaks out the back and covers the Castithan waiting in ambush, leaving Rynn and Siggy (the not-dead husband) alone in the bus. Rynn escapes, and Siggy, fearing for his life in so many ways, keeps mum. Amanda pink mists the Castie thug and Nolan shoots the preacher, pressing him for answers as to who his source was, but he slips away with a "screw you" on his lips.
Nolan finds water and the roller key in the enemy camp, only to face another gun from Tennety. The whole thing was her plan - she gets half the money and a promotion for turning Defiance, now broke, over to the Earth Republic. Siggy balks that she let their husband die, and would've let him die, too, which she shrugs off before someone throws chains from the shadows that wrap around Tennety's throat. It's Rynn! WTF? We thought you hated us.
And it's true, she does totally hate them, but there's a law in her way of life - if a man sacrifices himself for another, he doesn't get left alone. So when Nolan risked his life, he actually saved them all. Oh, irony. Siggy asks for a ride to the next town. Rynn wrinkles her nose, but agrees. Left alone with the traitor, Nolan suggests to Amanda that they lay some vigilante justice on Tennety, but instead, Amanda insists they take her back to Defiance and try her. BIG mistake. The first thing Tennety does when she boards the bus to prison after her trial is to tell her undercover assistant, posing as an officer of the law, to dig dirt on Amanda and have it ready when they arrive in New York. Amanda, unaware of the treachery, has a celebratory drink with Nolan that may be the budding of an illicit crush. Nothing like a near-death experience to bring you closer to someone.
Tommy, who cares maybe a little too much about his fellow deputy, has been shadowing Irisa, and midway through her enhanced interrogation, busts in her. She takes care of Tommy, too, by cuffing him to a heating pipe while she continues to work on Rock Hudson, there. She inflicts the same punishment -a snake bite - on the man that he had on her, but Tommy prevails on her to be humane, follow justice, and take the man to Yewll. But just as she agrees, he confesses to everything. He sees that Alakta, the goddess of birth and death, brought them together so that she can kill him. He will be her sacrifice, her final trial before fulfilling her destiny and becoming the goddess of destruction. He begs for her killing stroke. And she denies him.
Irisa unlocks Tommy, who rains down blows on the Castithan, only to be pulled away by Irisa. He wishes for death, she tells Tommy, so the cruelest punishment they can serve is to send him back to his bland life. Back at the jail, she confides in Tommy that she's afraid she may really be Alakta, or something like her. Tommy comforts her with a gentle caress, which she returns by devouring his face with kisses. Clothes come off. Love is made on the cement floor. But how much was real, and how much was a distraction from the fear that burns inside Irisa?