Picard’s Choice prologue

The early 21st Century
Earth
Washington, D.C., United States of America
Rock Creek Park

“I WILL NOT murder an innocent person, Q!”

Jean-Luc Picard held a phaser to Kate Todd’s forehead while Leroy Jethro Gibbs pointed a pistol at Picard’s head.

Picard, the stoic captain of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise from the future, struggled with all his might to keep his thumb from hitting the trigger. As long as he could help it, Picard would not commit an act that violated everything he believed in as a human being, a Starfleet officer and a representative of his era’s United Federation of Planets.

Gibbs, a former United States Marine and current U.S. federal agent, gave Picard his most withering glare. Gibbs also was trying to give the man a bullet through his head but was unable to pull the trigger. He couldn’t even move his body to shield his subordinate, teammate and friend.

Kate, a former U.S. Secret Service agent now working under Gibbs at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, could not move anything below her eyes. She could only look — first at the man who clearly wanted to bring no harm to her, then at the rage in the man who had taught her so much about work and life, and then at a man who somehow was manipulating all of this madness.

Q, as he called himself, was arrogant, irritating and either insane or, as he claimed, omnipotent. Given his behavior, Kate believed he was all of those things — especially as he was floating ten feet in the cool night air — yet he also was contradictory: Q said he was like a god, yet needed Picard to kill Kate to restore the future, and seemed both unapologetic and sorry to demand it.

All three of them wanted to put a round through the bastard’s head, but they all were at Q’s mercy, and no matter how hard they fought him, right now they were puppets on his string.

“Mon capitaine, I’m truly sorry,” Q said. “If there was ANY other way–”

“There is,” Gibbs interjected. “Let us go. Let HER go.”

“There MUST be another way, Q,” Picard said. “This…barbarism is beneath you.”

“The choice is yours, Jean-Luc,” Q replied, abruptly appearing, and peering, over Picard’s shoulder. “Choose carefully. The fate of everyone and everything you know and hold dear depends on it.”

Sweat poured down his face as Picard fought to keep from firing the phaser and ending Kate’s life. Picard was in the no-win situation he desperately tried to avoid and there was nothing he could do to change what Q was about to force him to do.

As he struggled to keep from pressing the trigger, Picard’s thoughts suddenly went backwards to right before this madness began…

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