A hundred years before Ender's Game, humans thought they were alone in the galaxy. Humanity was slowly making their way out from Earth to the planets and asteroids of the Solar System, exploring and mining and founding colonies.
The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. Other mining ships, and the families that live on them, are few and far between this far out. So when El Cavador's telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, it's hard to know what to make of it. It's massive and moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light.
But the ship has other problems. Their systems are old and failing. The family is getting too big. There are claim-jumping corporates bringing Asteroid Belt tactics to the Kuiper Belt. Worrying about a distant object that might or might not be an alien ship seems…not important.
They're wrong. It's the most important thing that has happened to the human race in a million years. This is humanity's first contact with an alien race. The First Formic War is about to begin.
A family of "free miners" that lived on the ship El Cavador were working an asteroid far out in the Kuiper Belt when they detected what appeared to be an alien ship decelerating from near light speed as it approached the solar system. Meanwhile, Lem Jukes, son and heir of Ukko Jukes, the founder of the largest mining corporation, was also in the remote region, far from the prying eyes of competitors, secretly testing a Glaser that promised to revolutionize mining. Back on Earth, Captain Wit O'Toole was recruiting among the elite New Zealand Special Air Service for the even more select, multinational Mobile Operations Police (MOPs).
Lem ordered his crew to "bump" El Cavador from the asteroid the family was mining, as it was the only suitable one nearby for his test. During the violent collision, an El Cavador crewman was killed. The miners hacked into the corporate ship's network, planting a message for Lem Jukes and downloading confidential files pertaining to the Glaser. Lem, fearful of a scandal involving the death of a free miner and the danger of the miners selling the confidential files to his competitors, set out for Weigh Station Four, where he intended to plant computer expert Podolski to strip El Cavador's files.
El Cavador's transmission equipment having been destroyed in the bump, the crew was unable to warn another mining clan about the alien invaders, and could only watch helplessly as an alien pod ship destroyed them. El Cavador rescued a few survivors when they arrived at the wreckage. To make the rescues quicker, Victor Delgado and a few other members of his family modified a quickship, an automated vessel normally used to send processed metals to Luna, in order for it to accommodate a human pilot. When the pod heads to attack El Cavador, the men on the quickship rammed and disabled the pod using mining equipment. During the attack, the aliens emerged to battle the humans. Upon seeing the aliens' appearance, Victor named them Hormigas (Ants).
El Cavador headed to Weigh Station Four to use their laserline transmitter, in order to warn Earth of the impending alien threat. As a backup, Victor volunteered to take a datacube with evidence of the aliens' hostile intentions to Luna aboard the quickship. Reluctantly, his family allowed him to leave.
Meanwhile, the Juke ship the Makarhu made its way to Weigh Station Four, only to come under attack from roughnecks who recognize the crew as despised corporates. Several of the attackers were killed by Chubs Zimmons, a man seemingly junior to Lem Jukes, but revealed as having been assigned by Ukko Jukes to protect him. The corporates were still able to leave behind Podolski to strip El Cavador's files, but the scheme became moot when the Formic ship destroyed the station as it passed by.
El Cavador sent a short-range, broad radio call and was able to contact the Makarhu and a WU-HU Corporation ship. El Cavador sent its women and children aboard the WU-HU vessel, which was too small to help in the attack against the Formics. The plan was to plant mining explosives along the hull of the alien ship. Unfortunately, one of them detonated early, drawing the attention of the Formics, who at first engaged the humans wearing space suits, but subsequently attacked without any protection. Seeing the battle turn against them, Chubs withdrew Lem Jukes and his men and moved the Makarhu away, as the Formic ship destroyed El Cavador.
Victor arrived at Luna, only to be confined for his illegal arrival. Meanwhile, Wit O'Toole prepared his MOPs for any situation, including what he thought was a hypothetical alien attack. Victor was eventually assigned a caseworker, Imala Bootstamp, who believed his story and helped him transmit the evidence onto the nets.