This first episode of Exosquad begins with a Charles Makena news report that sets the stage for the twenty-second century: the terraforming of Venus and the mining of Mars had begun when genetically engineered Neosapien workers on Mars revolted against their human masters. Despite the Neosapien capture of most of the mining towns on Mars, the humans were able to suppress the uprising with revolutionary exoframe technology, leaving humans and Neosapiens at peace for fifty years since.
We see the captain of the ore freighter Danube switch off Makena's report to inform his superiors on Mars of his projected arrival in three days. Just as he engages autopilot, alarms sound as two vessels with pirate markings intercept the Danube. One of the pirate ships opens fire and destroys the freighter's engines. The Danube's captain barely manages to transmit a mayday before the smaller pirate destroyer docks with the freighter.
We then cut to the desolate surface of Mars to find the members of Able Squad engaged in navigating the canyons that surround Olympus Mons. As the squad arrives at the mountain, Marsala relates the story of the Neosapien uprising, ultimately defeated on the plains below Olympus Mons, to Lieutenant Marsh. DeLeon interrupts Marsala and informs Marsh of three approaching Neosapien hover tanks, which open fire on the squad. Marsh promises that the squad will return to the mountain, and the squad blasts off out of Mars' atmosphere.
Dramatic music leads us to the exocarrier Resolute, home for the members of Able Squad and currently docked in Mars orbit. We see the squad returning from their Martian "pilgrimage" and landing in the hangar bay.
On the Resolute's bridge, Captain Marcus, Admiral Winfield, and several E-frame pilots are shown watching the distress call sent from the Danube, which ends with the freighter's captain pleading for help as three armed pirates break into the bridge. Captain Marcus begins to brief the pilots on the approaching rendezvous between the Resolute and the derelict Danube when Lieutenants Marsh and Burns arrive at the briefing. Marsh is shouted at by Marcus for joyriding in Neosapien space, but Winfield saves him by claiming that he authorized Able Squad's flight. Marcus backs off, and Winfield proceeds to assign Able Squad search-and-rescue on the Danube. "Tell your people to be ready for anything," Winfield tells Marsh after the squads are dismissed. He warns Marsh about Jonas Simbacca's presence in the area and quietly reprimands him for his unauthorized joyriding. Marsh promises it won't happen again.
DeLeon is busy showing off his "moves" for Bronski and Takagi when Weston comes in struggling to carry a huge piece of unidentified equipment. When she asks for a hand, Wolf and Kaz break into applause and snicker. Marsala enters the room behind Weston and offers to carry the box for her, lifting it over his head with one hand. Kaz, impressed with Marsala's strength, comments on how lucky the Terrans are to have the Neosapiens on their side. Sergeant Torres enters the room and orders the pilots to fall in and listen to Lieutenant Marsh. J.T. informs the squad of the rendezvous with the Danube and gives out various assignments in preparation for the search-and-rescue.
We then see an external view of the Resolute as the shuttle carrying the squad leaves the hangar and flies to the freighter. The shuttle docks and Weston opens the airlock. A quick survey of the ship reveals that gravity and communications are out, the engines are destroyed, and that the entire crew is dead. Marsh contacts and advises the Resolute, and a workcrew shuttle is launched to prepare the disabled Danube for towing.
Back on the bridge, Takagi and Marsala find the Danube's first officer trapped under a piece of bulkhead, unconscious but alive. Kaz impulsively reaches out to pry the bulkhead off of the crewman, when Marsh cries out, too late, "Takagi, don't!" Takagi lifts the bulkhead, setting off a pirate trap that deactivates the containment on the fusion reactor, giving a sixty second countdown until detonation. Marsh quickly orders everyone back to the shuttle, and Wolf and Kaz carry the unconscious first officer. Explosions wrack the Danube as the countdown continues. The pilots arrives at the shuttle and J.T. barks, "Nara, punch it!" The shuttle separates from the Danube and has blasted off when Nara realizes that the workcrew shuttle is still heading to the doomed freighter. The shuttle's communications are down because of the Danube's leaking containment field, so Nara flies the shuttle across the other's bow, blocking its path. The workcrew changes course to follow Able Squad's shuttle away from the freighter only seconds before Danube's reactors reach critical and explode. The Danube is ripped apart from within by a huge blast wave destroying everything in its path as the two shuttles head full speed away from the rapidly expanding blast. The wave catches up to and vaporizes the workcrew shuttle, but dissipates and collapses before it reaches the second shuttle. Deathly quiet, the squad returns to the Resolute.
On a massive space station orbiting Earth, we see the Homeworlds Congress engaged in heated debate over the recent pirate attack on an unarmed freighter. One senator argues aggressively in favor of war, while another insists that war isn't worth the cost in lives, reminding everyone of the tragic Neosapien uprising fifty years ago. The secretary general then allows Phaeton, Governor General of the Martian Commonwealth, to speak. Phaeton explains that, despite the horrible nature of war, he finds it necessary that the pirates be hunted out and destroyed to prevent further incidents. Phaeton promises the support of the Martian Commonwealth, and responding cries for war fill the hall.
We then see Lieutenant Burns in her quarters recording a message for her brother and parents on Venus. Her voice-over continues as we see the ships of the Exofleet assembling around the Homeworlds and the fleet's departure for the outer planets with the flagship Resolute leading the way.
In the Resolute's sickbay, we see Marsh talking to Bronski, whose torso is wrapped in bandages for injuries sustained on the shuttle flight. Wolf tries to downplay his injuries and asks to be restored to active duty, but when he winces in pain, J.T. refuses. Wolf complains, but J.T. silences him by reminding him of the casualties on the workcrew shuttle and saying the he refuses to lose another trooper just because "he's too stubborn to admit he's not fit to fly."
The members of Able Squad are all engaged in eating and the telling of bad jokes in the mess hall when Charles Makena, the reporter from the beginning of the episode, enters with his hovering camera. Makena asks Marsh if it is true that one of his pilots started the war between the pirates and the Homeworlds, and Marsh snaps that he felt it was the pirates who caused the war. Marsh says that he takes responsibility for the actions of all the members of his squad, and he and the squad storm out of the mess hall.
We then cut to the pirate flagship, hidden in the asteroid belt, where one of the pirate officers announces the detection of the Exofleet entering the asteroid belt. The officer informs him that the fleet's shields are up, and Simbacca issues the order to all ships to decloak on his mark and to take no prisoners.
We see a close-up of an asteroid, one with large thrusters attached to it, hovering near the Exofleet. The asteroid's thrusters power up and propel the asteroid toward the Resolute. Two similarly-equipped asteroids are activated seconds later, and narrowly miss the evading Resolute. When the asteroids change course to follow the Resolute, Winfield snarls at Marcus for not realizing that the asteroids were part of a pirate ambush, and orders all batteries to open fire.
The Resolute's batteries rip into the asteroids and completely destroys them, but one appears to collide with the Resolute. Thinking the Resolute was hit, Simbacca triumphantly shouts out the order to decloak and open fire. Shocked by the pirates' sudden appearance, Winfield orders the E-frames to launch after an argument with Marcus over the usefulness of E-frames in capital ship combat.
After a classic launch scene, Able Squad and another squadron begin their attack on the massive pirate fleet, which has begun trading volleys with the Exofleet. Marsh destroys one of the smaller pirate ships, but the Exocarrier Defiant is soon smashed and blown up by a giant asteroid. The Resolute then fires two torpedoes at one of the heavy pirate ships, destroying it. Bronski targets and obliterates another pirate destroyer, but is then shot from behind by two pursuing pirate ships. He asks J.T. to help him out, but as soon as Marsh turns to help Bronski, he too is hit. As J.T. goes spiraling away, Wolf yells out, "Where is everybody?"