Tyrian is set in the year 20,031. You play the role of a skilled terraforming pilot named Trent Hawkins, who is employed to scout out habitable locations on newly terraformed planets. His latest assignment is the planet Tyrian, which is located near the territory of the Hazudra, who are a lizard-like race.
One day, Buce Quesillac, a Hazudra and Trent's best friend, is shot in the back by a hoverdrone which quickly disappears into the sky. Buce lives just long enough to tell Trent that the attack was the work of MicroSol, the giant corporation who controls the terraformation of Tyrian. They want Buce dead because of his knowledge of Gravitium, which is a special mineral, unique to Tyrian, able to control the force of gravity.
Microsol want to use Gravitium to power their warships, which could result in them becoming nearly unstoppable. They will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who knows of its existence. Trent is the next person on their hit list, and Buce implores him to try to reach Savara, a free world. With that, Buce dies. Trent manages to secure a small fighter, and departs for Savara.