The Bride Wore Black
It’s the night before Alak and Christie’s wedding, and the Casti boys are testing Alak’s mettle with what we’ll call the traditional fight-and-guak – dueling with wooden swords, then performing ritual coitus in front of all of them with a prostitute dressed as Christie. Seeming is being, as the Castis say, but Christie isn’t Casti, so Alak isn’t guaking anyone tonight. His boys get riled up at this, leading to a real fight, and the tussle knocks so hard into a wall that it busts open. Something very non-traditional lies behind the wall: the corpse of a long-dead man.
Deputy Tommy ID’s the body as Hunter Bell, erstwhile owner of the NeedWant and Kenya’s husband. Kenya never mentioned this marriage to Nolan, making him think it was not such a perfect union. An interview with Kenya confirms that, and when the law boys interview Amanda, she defends her sister’s innocence, though must admit Hunter was a bully. Mayor Nicky is advising Amanda on the mayoral race, but when she learns Hunter’s corpse was found, she gives an “I’m a charming old granny” wink to the lawfolk, then slips away, probably to do something nefarious.
Tommy got where he is as a deputy because Bell set him up with the town’s former lawkeeper, so while Nolan’s ready to drop the matter of the bad, dead man, Tommy wants to dig deeper. Irisa may not be able to return Tommy’s amorous advances in kind, but she can examine crime scenes with him. Nothing says, “I like you” like hunting for evidence in a murder case.
The evidence they find is a Liberata whisker, probably belonging to Liberata NeedWant bartender Jered Kikama, and if he weren’t dead he would totally be able to confirm or deny it. Unfortunately, someone got to him before them and slit his throat with a Casti charge blade. Now they have TWO murders on their hands, and a suit to press for the wedding! How will this ever get done?
According to Nolan, it’s all a matter of delegation. Rough up Datak in a public setting, bring him “downtown” (aka the shed with the one jail cell), accuse him of murdering Jered to cover up his murder of Hunter, cut him loose, and let him lead them to the real murderer. He goes straight to Rafe, whether because that man had beef with Hunter for making a move on his mines, or because he hates Rafe for seeing his own ambitions for the mines, is not clear.
SIDE NOTE: Rafe totally knew that Datak was only letting Alak marry Christie so he could have a shot at owning the mines. He beat Datak at his own game, there, by rewriting his will so that the mines go to benefit the Irathient settlers from whom they were stolen. At this point, we the viewers get the juicy rage that only Datak can deliver when he returns home to Stahma and declares the wedding off. Stahma tries to gentle Datak and make him reconsider, but his mind’s made up. And speaking of Stahma, she’s really something, isn’t she? You never really know who she’s playing on – did she ever give a shtako about the mines, or was she just manipulating Datak to secure her son’s happiness? And what about the almost inappropriate scene she has with Christie, where she introduces the telo, a bridal veil gone S&M that blocks the bride’s vision completely? A mystery, that woman…
So anyway Datak gives some long-winded speech about filial piety, which Alak calls bullshtak, but regardless, he has to tell Christie that his dad freaked out and wants to stop the wedding. Christie can’t take it, she runs away crying, and we can’t blame her, first with all the telo weirdness, and now this. But when Alak explains the situation to Rafe, he sees the love in Alak’s heart and sets up the wedding and the happy ending these crazy kids need. Oh, and Stahma makes an old-world lace veil for Christie! She has a tender heart after all.
The murder investigation gets a respite for the wedding, but between comforting the distressed Kenya and keeping an eye on the fuming Datak, Nolan notices that Mayor Nicky isn’t there. He sees the flowers in Christy’s bouquet and gets a flash of intuition: Jered’s hands were swollen and discolored, much like the corpses of nitrogen-breathing Liberata after human-dropped oxygen bombs. He thinks quickly to Nicky’s ubiquitous oxygen mini-tank. Once Alak and Christy are joined in holy union, Nolan slips away and sure enough, finds Mayor Nicky’s corpse with a suicide note stating she killed Jered because he saw her kill Hunter Bell years ago. Not wanting to brave Vegas Prison, she took her own life.
But the medical examiner, Doc Yewll, knows the full story. She knows how Nicky killed Bell (a swift strike to the skull with her walking stick) and why (he found out that Mayor Nicky was a genetically altered Indogene).
WHAAAAAT?! Mayor Nicky was an alien? O. M. Gosh.
But really, it all kinda makes sense. She kept looking for that golden artifact, which Yewll tells us is a genocidal weapon, and seemed willing to kill people individually and en masse for what she called The Greater Good, though never quite explained what that meant. Yewll also knows how Mayor Nicky really died, because she’s the one who killed her. Yep, not suicide: Yewll saw her former partner deteriorate into a murderous, ruthless power monger, and couldn’t let it go on any longer. Nicky started with Hunter (who was a bastard, so she let that one go) but then unleashed the Volge on Defiance and killed a bartender who had kept his peace for seven years. Nicolette had changed, and it was time to put a stop to her destruction.
But is it the end? Yewll has hold of the Golden Knot now, and she doesn’t destroy it – she keeps it safe and sound in her office.