In 1853, the governor of California forms the California Rangers for the sole purpose of capturing or killing Joaquín Murrieta and his band of outlaws. Henry Lovejoy is named commander of this special unit. After a two-month-long manhunt, he returns to the state capitol with Murrieta’s severed head immersed in a jar of alcohol. He collects the bounty and the Rangers are disbanded. However, unbeknownst to the authorities, and to the public at-large, Lovejoy never killed Murrieta. Someone else's head was in that jar.
Two years later, Murieta has settled into a whole other life as a private rancho owner near Los Angeles. Living with him is his teenage niece, Feliciana “Feli” Carillo. In a chance encounter with squatters on their property, Feli fatally shoots one of them. Though the act is in self-defense, the racial tensions between Anglos and Mexicans are such that Joaquín, under the pseudonym Mariano Vega, is immediately executed without trial. However, not long after the hanging, Joaquin revives.
Having lost his memory, Feli and Karina Rendon, a family friend and love interest, become Joaquín’s only connection to his past. In the midst of recovering his identity, they are forced to leave their home as a manhunt is underway for those that “stole” his body. Fearing a racial uprising, the mayor of Los Angeles deputizes Lovejoy, ordering him to find the body at any cost. But Lovejoy has his own ulterior motives. Stirring up racial tensions is key to reviving his economic fortunes (showcasing body parts in jars) and his reputation as a bandido hunter.
But Joaquín’s revival has not been by chance. His ability to survive the lynching came not through natural means, but through extraterrestrial ones. Joaquín survives as a result of a transfer of souls that originates from across the galaxy. Matsot, a scientist and spirit guide-turned-rebel leader, performs a one-way soul transfer as a means of escaping imminent capture by his enemies. Hurled across the galaxy in search of a waiting vessel, Joaquín’s death is an opportune moment. The problem is, once inside Joaquín’s body, Matsot is unable to recognize who he is. What arises is an entanglement of memories and identities between both Joaquín, whose spirit remains viable, and Matsot. Neither soul wins or loses, but merge into something new -- a shadow soul.
While Joaquín, Feli, and Karina try to escape from the clutches of Lovejoy and his vigilantes, the conflict from across the galaxy comes to Earth in the form of alien agents sent to capture the fugitive rebel leader. What ensues is a series of confrontations and near escapes against both Earthly and otherworldly forces. In a harrowing rescue of her uncle from an alien ship, Feli falls terminally ill and dies. But not long after her death, she too, like her uncle, is resurrected. In the confrontation with otherworldly beings, our group gains an alien ally and protector, a female rebel named Axama. Through her, Juaquín's alien identity as well as that of Feli’s are brought into sharper focus.
Fifty years later, after having settled quietly as owners of a small curio shop in San Francisco, Joaquín, Feli, Axama, and Omé (Joaquín's daughter with Karina) are confronted with yet another alien attempt to capture them. This time, they decide to fully embrace their rebel identities and take the fight to the enemy across the galaxy.