NOTE: I found this unfinished Star Trek: The Next Generation fan fiction on my hard drive. I wrote it a little bit after Star Trek: Nemesis came out.
The inhabitants of the nearby village knew little about the old man that lived in the house above the lake, except that on occasion passers-by heard the sound of a flute rising from behind the ivy covered gate. They did not know his name. They did not know it was written across history, mostly as hero, in some places as tool of destruction. Any overtures of friendship or invitations to share a meal were politely refused, and over time it became general knowledge that the old man desired solitude. Which made it odd when on a bright spring morning a man pushed open the ivy covered gate and crossed the small courtyard, knocking loudly at the front door. He wore a brown suit and a ludicrously full beard. When the door opened he said, "I have a delivery for a Jon Luck Pickerd."
The old man clinging to the door winced. "What? There is no one here by that name, go away."
"Jean-Luc, look what's become of you."
The old man's vague glare hardened and he stared past the other man's comical beard. "Q? Is that you?"
A flash and the beard was gone, the brown suit replaced by a red and black star fleet uniform. "Does this help your decrepit memory?"
"Why have you come here?" Jean-Luc Picard said.
"Is it a crime to visit an old friend?"
"We were never friends, Q. You killed members of my crew."
"Never by direct action, only by placing them in situations where harm might possibly come to them. In that sense you killed far more members of your own crew than I."
"Q, I will not play games with you. I... I will not. I demand that you leave here this instant."
"Jean-Luc, I never listened to your demands when you were a man worthy of respect, why would I now?" He pushed his way into the house. "Nice place you have here."
Picard slammed the front door and followed Q into a medium sized room where sunlight streamed lazily in through the windows. He placed his hand on Q's shoulder. "LEAVE HERE N-"
"Silence!" Q said, with a gesture rendering Picard speechless and immobile. "I do not bandy words with shadows." He stepped away, turned, and then lowered Picard's outstretched arm. "And I do not play games with cowards." He began circling the room. "Captains should never retire. There is too much time to ponder the mistakes of judgement, and the people that were killed by them. Shall I list each one of your mistakes aloud?" A flash and he was running his finger along the main furrow of Picard's brow. "No, you are already too much a ghost, a latter day King Lear. Even I take no pleasure in poking a carcass."
He resumed his circling. "Are guilt and sorrow cumulative? You become part of a machine killing thousands and recover in a month. A machine that becomes part of you ceases to function leaving a duplicate to someday take its place and you cannot recover in years. You sit and hide and wallow in self-pity, sometimes playing a flute pretending an imaginary life that was not yours was actual and true. The depths to which you have sunk. It is grotesque. You should have died as so many of your colleagues have. The klingon's death was magnificent. He killed eight of the nine assassins that finished him. That was a death worth watching. As was the doctor's, curing the plague that eventually claimed her. You should be ashamed Jean-Luc. Your death here will be so boring and wretched."
He walked along the far wall and stopped behind a low desk. "I'm here to give you a chance to entertain me." He tapped at a portable console that had not been turned on in months. "On this screen is written a death of king's, of hero's, of legend. If you wish you can switch it off unread and die a pitiful creature unworthy of anything but scorn. The choice is yours."
A quick flash and he was at Picard's shoulder studying the lined face intently. "I wonder... is there anything left of the man I knew."
Another flash and he was gone. Picard slumped and grasped the edge of the desk to keep from falling. Staring at the back of the portable console he stumbled and made his way outside. In the center of the courtyard, his face half in shadow, his eyes closed, he listened to the sound of the wind in the trees and he shivered like the leaves and branches. Long moments passed. He opened his eyes. He took a few steps and knelt before a flower bed. He lifted a spade. His hand shook and the spade dropped to the ground.
"Q," he whispered. "Q!" he shouted. There was no reply. From down the hill came the sound of children's laughter. He lifted the spade and held it, his grip tight on the handle. He stared at his fingers, at his knuckles. His hand did not shake. He set the spade down carefully. He stood and adjusted his shirt. His posture straightened. He marched back inside.
On the screen was a day old report detailing the assassination of Chancellor Alrick of Valt and the renewed hostilities between the planets Krios and Valt Minor. Picard gripped the console. A smile formed oddly on his face. "Kamala."
Two hours later he was on a shuttlecraft en route to the largest port city of the nearby planet Aoltus. There he purchased a small ship and, pushing it to its limit, made his way to Valt Minor in twenty-six hours. A little after he entered Valtese space, a war cruiser intercepted him. He identified himself as Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard, late of the starship Enterprise, on an urgent mission to see the newly appointed Chancellor of Valt.
"Of course not," Picard said. "If the Kriosians were to intercept a message that gave proof the federation was siding with Valt, it would make things difficult for starfleet."
"So the federation is siding with me in this war."
"With Valt, yes. But covertly."
Chancellor ? looked back at Kamala with a smile. "This is wonderful news, my dear."
She nodded her head and Picard allowed himself to stare at her.
"Beautiful, is she not," Chancellor ? said. "She is to become my wife on the morrow."
"Congratulations," Picard said, slipping his hand in his pocket.
Activating the relay in his pocket, both he and Kamala shimmered and vanished.