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Clearance - and other unpleasantries

Posted on Thu May 31st, 2018 @ 12:29pm by Lieutenant Commander Estella Stratton & Lieutenant Samantha Howard

Mission: Ojnas Peace Challenge
Location: Counsellors Office

Sam dragged her feet a little more than she'd care to admit on her way to her appointment with Estella. It was as though she disliked the Counselor - far from it. She was afraid of what their discussion may bring up. Not only afraid - terrified.

With a hesitant breath she pressed the chime and waited to be let in.

Estella's fingers drummed on her desk as she glanced toward the door. The lieutenant ran late. Perhaps Sam felt as apprehensive about this session as she did? The counselor breathed deep and cleared her throat at the sound of the chime. "Enter."

"Sorry I'm late" Sam apologised as she stepped through the door and regarded the counsellor with an apprehensive look. She knew she shouldn't have let her own insecurities hold up the good counsellor but somehow she couldn't help it. Nothing she could do about it now but plunge forward.

"Quite alright." Estella gestured toward the chairs. "Please, take a seat."

"The Captain has ordered a review before I am allowed to be reinstated in my duties" She admitted as she headed over to a vacant armchair and sank into it "I know I acted irresponsibly and put another's life at risk. I'm surprised he hasn't booted me off the ship..."

The counselor's expression remained vacant. Difficult as the situation was, she tried to keep an open mind. "Dr. Howard... might I ask what prompted you to behave as you did?"

"I needed to take definitive action that would force the Sóna to help us. If he didn't provide the cure we knew he had, we would all have perished on that planet. By infecting him forced him to cure not only himself but the rest of the away team and thus the planet. But by doing so I violated my medical oath to do no harm, not to mention at least half a dozen Starfleet regulations" Sam explained with a dejected tone in her voice. It was almost like she had signed off on her own arrest warrant.

Her arms rested on her desk; her fingers laced. "Sam...," she paused. "Do you think the Sóna would have helped us if you had not taken the course of action that you did?" Estella's eyes sought Sam's. What had happened on the planet bothered the counselor deeply. As did Sam's actions. Yet, she could not help but wonder what she would have done if she were faced with such a decision. Would she have been able to do as Lieutenant Howard had? No... somehow, she doubted it.

"I don't think he would have helped us. He was there to make sure the disease spread as he had designed it to, we just would have been another convenient casualty in their quest to take over the planet. "There was no way I could have designed an effective cure with the time I had left." It hurt to admit her shortcomings, if she had more time she could have figured it out, but infected with the disease herself time was something they didn't have.

Any thoughts she might have had were hidden behind a stoic expression. Back upright, shoulders straight, her stomach knotted feeling tight like the rest of her body. To clear Lieutenant Howard, she would need to be thorough.
That required recounting not only their time on the planet, but to examine Sam's logical and moral reasoning. Her mental state so to speak. Given her admiration for Lieutenant Howard that would be no small task. As she took in what Sam said the counselor prepared another. "How much time did you have?"

Sam grimaced at the memory, struggling to recall the finer detail in the haze of illness that had overcome her.
"A day, two at most maybe if the gods were kind. The symptoms were progressing rapidly unlike any disease I have ever come across. The Sóna was our only hope of getting off that rock alive, not to mention achieving our mission objective. But hey, I'll take getting out alive over a mission anyday of the week" There was a half hearted laugh that fooled no-one.

The weight of Sam's decision visibly weighed on her, and Estella noticed it. With that being apparent, the knowledge didn't make Estella's words come any easier. "How do you feel about your actions, Sam?" Even with the attempted humor and weak smiles, there was no masking the difficulty Sam must have had in making such a choice. "How high would you say our chances were of survival, if you hadn't taken your chosen course of action?"

"We would have died, along with everyone else on that planet. There was no way I could come up with an effective remedy for a disease that took months or years to create in a day. I feel as though what I did was wrong, so very wrong - it saved many many lives. " Sam admitted. The guilt plagued her mind but it was better feeling guilty and being alive to feel said guilt. "The Captain has mentioned that whilst it violated a number of regulations, he could see the positives and the end result as a validation. I'm just not comfortable with that though."

As much as the counselor hated hearing it, Estella acknowledged the gravity of the situation. She lacked the skills to fully understand the inner workings of such an illness. Contamination time, progression of symptoms, and the end results defined her knowledge of ailments. Whereas the Lieutenant had those among other variables to consider. The ease with which the illness spread, the severity of symptoms and the rate at which they developed, etc. And given how the Sona received them and the way the Sona had answered the Lieutenant it was not hard to see the logic in Sam's words. Albeit, they were no easier to swallow. She leaned in. "Why don't you feel validated, Sam?"

Sam's eyes widened a little at the counsellors words. Why didn't she feel her actions were valid? What moral compass was she using to direct her actions that her psyche could not deal with?

"I... uh.... I don't know. Logically I did what was necessary to ensure both my own and my teams survival. Morally is where I am having issues with. To willingly and wantingly infect another being with a deadly disease to force his hand isn't the right way to conduct an away mission - but that's what saved our lives. I think that's what I'm having issues with. My oath states to do no harm, I harmed, he healed, and the universe goes on."Sam shrugged her shoulders as though she had made some quip that deserved a laugh - even though it didn't.

Estella's gaze met and held Sam's at the utterance of one word. Morals. There was no arguing with Sam that what she had done was wrong. Terrible as the Sona's actions and intentions were, two wrongs never made a right. But as much as the counselor might have felt the methods Sam had used were unethical, she was grateful that Sam had acted as she did. Otherwise, they might not be where they were now. "Might I perhaps offer another perspective?" she asked quietly.

Sam regarded the counsellor with a quizzical expression.
" There is another perspective?" She asked, having convinced herself multiple times over that she was damned for the rest of her days for her actions. " Please share"

She took a few moments to gather her thoughts and after some reflection, she surmised there was no delicate way to put it. "All doctors make the pledge not to do harm. When the Sona made this contagion, he did so with the intent of not only harming but killing." Estella exhaled with a shaky breath and held Sam's gaze. "When you inoculated the Sona with his own illness, did you do it with the intent to harm? Or with the intent to make him see and correct the pain he was inflicting upon others? Odd as it may sound, I would like to believe you saw fault in what the Sona was doing and wanted him not only to see it, but to fix it."

Sam mulled over this new perspective, rolling it around in her mind a few times. Estella had a good point, one that rang true in the muddle of self doubt that blanketed Sam like a thick fog.
" I knew he had a cure, I also knew he wasn't going to share it unlike forced" Sam paused again. " By forcing his hand we saved many lives, not to mention his own." Sam demeanor brightened at this revelation, as though this new perspective alleviated the anguish she had been feeling.

" Thank you Estella, I'm not sure I could have continued working without your guidance."

Estella nodded. "Sometimes doing the right thing, means doing something that no one else is willing to do." In her mind Sam had taken the only course of action that she could to save everyone. She had done so fully aware of the consequences, because the need outweighed the risk. "You are welcome, Sam. Your dedication to healing and to the Washington are commendable. Not many doctors fight so fiercely against such odds. Remember that the next time you question your value."

" I will" Sam replied softly, accepting the confirmation and nodding. It had been a highly emotional away mission that could have ended in disaster at every opportunity. There was an intense feeling of relief, vindication even as their session drew to a close. She hadn't done the wrong thing, she hadn't put her own needs ahead of others.

" Thanks Estella." She smiled simply and regarded the counsellor with an appreciative glance.

"You're welcome, Sam. My door is always open," Estella replied with a soft smile.


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