The movie opens with a 27th century equivalent of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A Kilrathi fleet launches a surprise attack on Pegasus colony, a Confederation asteroid base which houses fleet command as well as things like artificial beaches for R&R. A Mandarin (who happens to be a ĎPilgrimí, a type of human who has the genetic ability to manually travel navigate jump points) and a Kilrathi warrior steal Pegasusí navigation computer before the entire station is destroyed by the Kilrathi fleet. Using the data from the navigation computer the Kilrathi gain the ability to strike directly at Earth itself.
Admiral Tolwyn sends an encrypted message to recent TCSNA graduate and half pilgrim 2nd Lt. Christopher Blair onboard the TCS Diligent. Blair and fellow graduate Todd "Maniac" Marshall are traveling with the Diligentís commander Captain James "Paladin" Taggart to their first assignment, onboard the strike carrier CSS Tigerís Claw. Taggart recognizes Blairís ability and allows him to pilot the Diligent through Scylla, a dangerous secret jump point. Although he almost destroys the transport during the trip, Blair spends shaves the missionís duration from six months to only three minutes.
Onboard the Tigerís Claw Blair meets Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux, his Wing Commander., Tigerís Claw Captain Jason Sansky and XO Paul Gerald. Gerald is particularly vocal in his disapproval of Blairís genetic background. Paladin moves the Tigerís Claw through a jump point to a small brown dwarf system, and to Blairís first meeting with the Kilrathi. While patrolling an asteroid field, Blair and Angel destroy two Kilrathi fighters performing recon work in the area. Sansky orders Angel to continue to search the area, but nothing is found. Expecting a trap, Paladin orders the pilots to return to the Tigerís Claw.
It is soon discovered that there is a traitor onboard the Tigerís Claw herself. Through the course of the movie the Tigerís Claw will come under attack, and Blair and company will board a Kilrathi ship. The movie climaxes with the destruction of a Kilrathi Snakeir carrier.