Toliver: Let’s not forget he is a member of the Medical Department as well. As the acting commander of the outpost, it was his decision to make, his to carry out. He had the responsibility of safeguarding twenty two hundred personnel at that time, and with that in mind, supporting his decision, unless it was illegal or immoral was the proper thing to do.
Wong: I know we’re supposed to have his back as per protocol. But it just didn’t seem like he had our backs. It’s a feeling I’ve never got from anyone else I’ve served under - Captain Rahman, Commander Ukinix, Ambassador Vaitax… nobody’s ever made me feel this way. This is the first time where I was truly uncomfortable with my commander.
Toliver: Ikaia…we don’t have the luxury of picking our CO’s. We serve at their mercy or Starfleets’ They will not always take our advice. They will not always listen to us, or even ask our opinion. What we have to do is carry out whatever orders we are given to the best of our ability. If we are asked for our opinion, we give it with the knowledge we have at that time. That is our role. At that point the CO, in this case Commander Carter, makes the call. He makes the call because he has the experience, the intuition, the authority, and the pips to do so.
Wong: I’m uncertain he will listen to me again. I really do think he will disregard any cautions or warnings about a situation with nothing more than a smile and a few words like he did the first time. I… haven’t had an honest conversation with him about how I feel. I didn’t think it was the time or place about my feelings when we spoke earlier. It wouldn’t be professional.
Toliver: Listen. Having a frank talk with him is not a bad idea. You first need to digest everything I have said and put aside what you think for a moment. Starship captains and or those in command have to make decisions every day which determine whether we live or die. That is an awesome responsibility and one not to be taken lightly. I have no doubt he will listen to you, but I must also caution you that you must understand that there is a time and place to offer your suggestions. Frankly, your timing during the Hawlat negotiations stank and to him, you undercut his authority and sewed doubt into the minds of the Hawlat. That did not make him happy at all. You had a point to make, but that was not the time for you to make it. Are you understanding what I am saying? Listen…chaos doesn’t engender trust among officers or allies. What could have happened during the peace negotiations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire if the Starfleet officers were warned by their medical officers during the negotiations with the Klingons in the room that consuming gagh could be medically unwise? That would not have gone over well at all. Do you see my point now?
Ikaia froze. Something about that hit home for him. If there was no peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire…..
Wong: …. I wouldn't exist. Or at least not in this capacity. ::Running his hands through his hair:: I don't even know the fate of my bio parents and I may have met the same fate as them whatever that may be if it weren't for the Federation.
Toliver: Exactly. All actions have consequences. Even what seems to be the most benign could be completely devastating in its results.
Wong: I mean I get it. I messed up bad in front of the Hawlat. I got scared and desperate. I panicked. And at a critical moment too. In short, I choked.
Toliver: All the more reason to let the leaders lead. Experience is important, and sometimes, you have to hold back and wait, despite your feelings. In command, that focused cool hides a lot of fear sometimes.
Wong: Command isn't something to take lightly either. I've literally just experienced being in command where it wasn't by accident or circumstance. The feeling of people' lives in your hands is as amazing as it is in medicine. It's just now everyone's alive, healthy and well and they're all counting on you to make the right decision.
Toliver: From what I’ve heard and read, you performed well.
Wong: Huh….? I've heard at least a few people saying that I was brave and did well while rescuing the stellae with my team. I mean not from any of the higher ups. More like when someone passes by you in a hall? Anyways, that's the general consensus with at least those who aren't in command. I have yet to really hear from any of them about it. But I guess really, I saw that diplomacy and lives were hanging in the balance and depended upon the decisions I've made. I don't feel brave or heroic. I feel like I did what I had to do.
Toliver: Once your after action reports are read by the command staff, that’s when your praise will come. Although it’s not uncommon for senior staff to also throw out an “atta boy.” Sometimes, you just do your job and the satisfaction is internal, for you, for a job well done. No doubt you will get your share of medals over your career. And you will also have to realize one very important thing.
Wong: Well, I’m actually not looking for praise or for someone to tell me “atta boy.” In fact I’m looking for— Ah sorry. What were you going to say?
Toliver: Not everyone will come home when you command a mission all the time. It could be an accident, enemy fire, or a stellar anomaly. You do this long enough you will lose people under your command, just as you cannot save every patient.
Wong: I know. I’ve already seen patients perish in the past. I’ve seen crewmates wake up that morning like it’s a normal morning and ending up on a slab at the end of the day. Command is just different.
Toliver: What you have to remember is...when in command, command. Your team can't see doubt, or indecision, or fear. Feel free to ask them for suggestions, but at the end of the day, it's your command, your decision. And despite your best efforts and intentions, you could lose someone, or order someone to their deaths. That is the weight of command. That is the weight officers like Carter, Ukinix, and others carry with them every day.
Wong: Yeah… that…. That almost happened. I nearly lost two teammates on my last mission. Both times, it was so sudden. I could see it happen but I couldn’t do anything to really stop it from happening. What I’m looking for isn’t praise. It’s… I’m not even sure if it's forgiveness either internally or externally or if it’s forgiveness at all. I know guilt is something I’m feeling.
Wong: Captain Rahman once told me that I should forgive myself. But I'm just not ready to do that yet. I keep thinking that I should have done more or that there was something else I could have done to prevent that. They were counting on me to do the right thing and I'm not so sure I did.
Wong: It really has come down to one of those things I keep thinking about and have on replay in my mind these days. I just want to do better for my team.
Lieutenant Ikaia Wong PA-C
Chief Medical Officer