In the years leading up to 2063, humanity has begun to colonize other planets. Lacking FTL technology, this is accomplished by taking advantage of transient but predictable, naturally-occurring wormholes. Without warning, a previously unknown alien species, the "Chigs", attack and destroy Earth's first extra-solar colony and then destroy a second colony ship. The bulk of the Earth military forces sent to confront the Chigs are destroyed or outflanked, in part because the Chigs have some form of FTL, affording them greater freedom of movement (although this technology appears limited, and the Chigs also primarily utilize natural wormholes).
At the opening of the show, the Chigs have defeated all counterattacks, and have entered the Solar System. In desperation, unproven and under-trained outfits like the 58th "Wildcards" are thrown against the Chigs. The Wildcards are the central focus of the series, which follows them as they grow from untried cadets into veterans. Although the unified Earth forces come under the control of a reformed United Nations, the UN has no armed forces of its own and therefore navies such as the U.S. Navy and the Royal Navy operate interstellar starships.
Prior to the events of the TV-show, there was a war between humans and android artificial intelligences known as Silicates. These human-looking androids, referred to as "walking personal computers", have rebelled, formed their own societies, and wage a guerrilla war against human society from a number of remote bases. The Silicates are also suspected of having some involvement with the Chigs.
In an attempt to defeat the Silicates, a new underclass of genetically engineered and artificially gestated humans were bred to quickly swell the ranks of the military. These troops, collectively known as InVitros or sometimes, derogatory, "tanks" or "nipple-necks", are born at the physical age of 18, and trained solely for combat. In the post-war period the tanks have attempted (with mixed success) to re-enter human society.
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