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A black clad figure melted from the cloak of deep shadow and cautiously pressed itself against the metal bulkhead that had risen up to arrest further progress along the corridor. As the figure's head bobbed from side to side, carefully inspecting what appeared to be an access hatch, the weak illumination provided by dimmed overhead lamps revealed the interloper's chiselled male features.

From his demeanour it was clear that his presence was neither regular nor expected and his less than ostentatious attire pointed to someone who wanted to go about his work unnoticed. As the unknown male checked his surroundings his movements were carefully controlled and fluid. It came as no surprise to learn therefore that he had been trained by the best the intelligence services had to offer. His tall, athletic frame was neatly wrapped in a snug one-piece that had been meticulously crafted from hardwearing, man-made material and seemed to almost merge with the shadow around him. Should the camouflage fail him the suit boasted an integrated layer of Alukevlar-composite body armour, and despite the suit's utilitarian lines various bits of kit lurked hidden about his person ready to be put into play at a moments notice. A stowaway he might be but aimless and defenceless he clearly was not.

Satisfied of his progress thus far Commander Jake Trant turned from the sturdy hatch stubbornly blocking his path and checked back down the corridor. Raising his right forearm to chest level he inspected the circular display that was strapped to his wrist. Using the index finger of his gloved left hand he tapped the round face of the device. A second later the device sent out a short, silent ping and the resulting readings told him all that he needed to know; two flashing dots meant that the same number of moving objects lay just beyond the metal wall he was now leant up against.

Already mentally running through his next few moves he turned once more to face the hatch.

Streaking through the twilight at near impossible speeds the light from distant stars was suddenly blotted out as a behemoth slid silently through the void. The gargantuan’s size belied the speed and manoeuvrability otherwise hinted at by a sleek shape and smooth lines. As particles of light struck the passing beast they gamely glistered across the detail of an outer hull bristling with weapon ports before playing across the jauntily painted moniker artfully styled to match the ship's reflective hull. The vessel's tag remained imperceptible most of the time but when illuminated from a particular angle the three-foot high lettering spelt out its name, ‘Valkyrie’.

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