Sixteen-year-old Ethan Cochran is a lot like any other high school kid his age; he plays football, he has a girlfriend, he goes to proms. But when he graduates two years early, instead of going to college or learning the family business, Ethan does something a bit different; he volunteers to be a fighter pilot in the Colonial Sector Navy. Once in the Navy Ethan finds things aren't exactly the way they were portrayed back on Earth. The alien Kalian are aggressively pushing humans off of their original twelve colonies. WorldGov, a coalition of business and government that runs the Earth and keeps it a paradise, is out in the colonies exploiting their resources and leaving environmental disasters behind. And the colonists? They aren't really the happy pioneers portrayed on TV, more like grumpy conscripts. Despite his reservations Ethan is commissioned to pilot the navy's most powerful weapon of defense against the Kalian, the SPEEDWING. Together with his friends Meredith and Sono they fight to defend the Earth from these aggressive invaders. Things take a turn for the worse when Ethan is shot down and captured by a Kalian. Only then does he discover more unpleasant truths; his "alien" captor is a friend, and the Kalian are all too human.