The Predator Elder stood on the observation deck of his ship, looking out at the planet below. The whole of the front of the room was one massive screen, making it seem as though there was nothing there at all between him and the world below, as though you could just step off the ship and into space. It was a beautiful world, the Elder thought, an unspoilt, tropical world covered with mile after mile of lush, virgin jungle. The hunting would be good. It had been many years since his people had hunted here and the prey had had plenty of time to flourish and multiply. A very long time ago, almost too long ago for him to remember, he had faced his Kainde Amedha Chiva here, the rite of passage that marked his entry into adulthood and the beginning of his life as a warrior. Those who had been the elders then had miscalculated badly. The hard meats had done well here, too well, and had spread across the planet in far greater numbers than anyone had realised. Of all the young unblooded potential warriors to take part in that hunt, there had been twenty of them, he remembered, he had been the only one to come back alive - only just alive admittedly, but he had not only survived, he had brought back his first trophy, the skull of the hard meat queen.

Despite his advanced years, the Elder was still impressive to behold. Age had not weakened him and although he could no longer move with the same lightning speed he had possessed in his youth, he had gained knowledge and wisdom over the years. There was still no-one on board who could defeat him and those who tried were lucky if they survived the experience. Every morning without fail, he could be found practicing in the training rooms and sometimes, if his mood was good, he would deign to spar with the unblooded ones, training them and passing on vital skills to the next generation of warriors.

He was of average height for a Yautja, standing maybe seven and a half feet tall and his frame was toned and muscular. His deep set eyes glowed a warm amber hue; his skin was creamy in colour, mottled with darker colours, accentuated by the heated netting he wore. His hair, if hair it could be called, hung down his back, almost to his waist, thick iron-grey appendages adorned with gold rings that told the story of just a few of his many battles.

A soft clicking sound brought the Elder's attention back to the present and he turned his back on the view, to see two young warriors approaching him. They came to a halt, remaining a respectful distance from him and bowed. Seeing that they had brought his gauntlets, he held out his arms and waited. Obeying the unspoken order, they stepped forward and fastened the gauntlets onto the Elder's arms.

Slowly the Elder lowered his gaze to inspect the gauntlets that had just been placed on his wrists. Highly polished and ornate, they shone with a muted bronze glow. With one clawed finger, the elder activated the computer embedded in the right gauntlet and checked it over. He gave a click of satisfaction. So far everything was in order; now to check the weapons. Clenching his fist, he made a slight movement with his wrists and with a faint whisper of metal on metal, long, serrated blades came shooting out. He clenched his fists again, retracting the blades, mandibles flaring in what for him was a smile. Nodding his approval he dismissed the two Young Bloods.

He was ready now. The representatives of the Federation and the Klingons would be arriving soon and he would go on board their ship to begin negotiations. Negotiations, the Elder thought with a moment of disgust. There had been a time when the Yautja people did not negotiate with their prey. But the Oomans, to give them their old slang name, and the Klingons were no longer prey, had not been for many years now. He was one of the very few warriors still alive who could actually claim to have hunted either species and he still had their skulls in his trophy room. Those had been the good days, he thought. He had not hunted for a long time – he was old now and no longer needed the thrill, and if he was honest it had become boring after a while. Even so, and even knowing he was doing what was best for his people, it still seemed strange to be opening negotiations with beings he had once hunted.

Footsteps sounded, coming closer and the Elder growled. He had given orders that he was not to be disturbed. Who was it that dared to disobey him? The Yautja that entered was a tall, powerful looking individual. Kihr'yende was an experienced warrior and the captain of the ship. He was also the Elder's son and seeing him, the Elder relaxed and allowed himself a slight smile. Of all his offspring, he was most proud of this one, the oldest of his sons.

Kihr'yende approached his father and bowed before speaking. He was on duty and his word were formal, the words of a ship's captain to the Clan Elder, not those of a son to his beloved father. "Honoured Elder, the ships approach and your shuttle is ready."

"Have they made contact yet?" As he asked the question, the Elder moved across the room, picking up his cloak and throwing it across his shoulders, his claws nimbly fastening the chain that held it in place. Deep red in colour, the heavy fabric fell in graceful folds to the ground, swaying in time with the movements of the elder.

"Yes sir, a few minutes ago," Kihr'yende answered respectfully, "As we were informed they have sent two ships, the IKV Ch'Tang, under the command of General Khetara epetai Rustadh," He pronounced the unfamiliar name slowly and carefully before continuing "representing the Klingon Empire."

The Elder nodded "And the other ship?"

The younger predator checked his notes. "The USS Endeavour, commanded by Fleet Captain Kehlan sutai Inigan." Again Kihr'yende was careful in his pronunciation of the alien name. "As I understand it, she is also Klingon, but works for the Federation."

The Elder nodded his understanding. "They have sent females to negotiate then," he commented thoughtfully, "I wonder if they understand the significance of that or if it is just coincidence." It was a rhetorical question, one to which he neither expected nor received an answer. Yautja culture was shrouded in mystery to outsiders and the Federation had no way of knowing just how much power the females held over their male counterparts. Saying 'no' to a female was not easy for a Yautja male and sometimes, it could be suicidal. The Elder shrugged, he would just have to deal with it. They were prey he reminded himself, honoured prey maybe but still prey and he would not allow the femininity of their negotiators to distract him from his purpose.

"It is time, Honoured One," Kihr'yende reminded his father, "The honour guard is waiting for you in the shuttle bay."

"The honour guard will not be coming with us," the Elder said. At his son's look of surprise, he continued, "I'm taking you and Da'rian. No other escort is necessary."

Despite his disapproval of his father's decision, Kihr'yende did agree with his choice of Da'rian to accompany them. The commander of the honour guard was not only a formidable warrior but a skilled diplomat as well. "It shall be as you command."

"Then we leave now," the Elder said, and with those words he turned and walked through the door and into the corridor. Kihr'yende followed and together, father and son headed towards the shuttle bay. The mission was about to begin.