Humiliated by defeat, the K'Soth Empire has finally collapsed into civil war amongst the noble houses and now the Commonwealth stands victorious over its old enemy. Vast swathes of territory have been liberated from the alien oppressors and humanity struggles with the post-war burden of restoring order and rebuilding.
But another war is being fought in the shadows. Admiral Michelle Chen, heroine of the war against the Empire, has been recruited into Special Operations Command, a black ops outfit dedicated to intelligence gathering and covert warfare against the ancient, malevolent race known only as the Shapers.
No-one has seen the Shapers and lived to tell about it. No-one except Caleb Isaacs, wayward freighter captain and washed up former navy pilot, who has just slipped through Chen's fingers.
Meanwhile, archaeologists Katherine O'Reilly and Rekkid Cor journey to the distant Hadar system, on the frontiers of human space, where the Commonwealth Navy have uncovered an ancient ship of unknown origin which, if rumour is to be believed, is killing the men sent to excavate it.
The Arkari watch and wait. Deep in the galactic core, the Shapers are moving.