"Janeway to sickbay."
Silence echoed over the comm line.
"Janeway to the Doctor."
Captain Kathryn Janeway frowned at the continued silence.
"Computer, status of the EMH program."
"The EMH program is off-line"
"The EMH program was deactivated at 0600 hours."
"Deactivated? By whom?"
"The EMH program was deactivated by Seven of Nine."
"Janeway to Seven of Nine."
"Report to my ready room immediately."
"I am extremely busy, Captain."
While awaiting Seven's arrival Janeway scanned the Padds on the desk for reports relating to problems with the EMH program. As expected she found none. With a sigh she rose and moved to stare out at the passing stars. The sight usually soothed her, always constant yet constantly changing, but today it provided no comfort. She felt the beginnings of a headache pressing at her temples. It was only 0930 hours but already she knew that today would not be a good day. A day that began with a confrontation with Seven never was.
The entrance chime sounded and the door opened at her command to admit the ex-drone.
"You wished to see me, Captain."
"The computer informs me that you are responsible for the deactivation of the EMH."
"Would you care to tell me why, and why you didn't see fit to inform me before taking the Doctor off-line?"
"The EMH program is malfunctioning; deactivation was necessary to protect the crew. I intended to provide a detailed report when my investigation into the malfunction was concluded."
"Have you informed Lieutenant Torres?"
"Seven, we've discussed this before. You have been told several times that you must obtain approval from Lieutenant Torres or myself before taking essential systems off-line."
"I am aware of that, Captain, but in this instance it was necessary to act immediately before someone was hurt."
Janeway rubbed her aching forehead as she decided to let the breach of protocol pass for the time being.
"What exactly is the nature of the malfunction?"
"The Doctor has been recommending the ingestion of toxic chemicals."
"Explain." Janeway commanded.
"As part of the maintenance of my human physiology the Doctor recommended that I replicate substance EMH47alpha and use it twice daily. When I obtained the substance form the replicator I observed that the package was marked as poisonous. The Doctor had informed me that he recommends the formulation to all human crew members so I performed a ship wide scan and detected the substance in the quarters of 63 members of the crew, including your own, Captain. Naturally, I took steps to prevent any further attempts by the Doctor to damage the crew and deactivated the EMH until the cause of the malfunction could be found."
"You found this substance in my quarters?"
Janeway crossed to the replicator.
A rectangular package appeared. Janeway picked it up in bemusement.
"Where does it indicate that this is poisonous?"
Seven pointed to a small area of text on the back of the box.
Janeway read it and smiled.
"Oh, that! It means nothing. You can ignore it, Seven. This stuff is harmless."
"It is not logical to include irrelevant information."
"It's just a statutory warning. Centuries ago such warnings were necessary to protect the manufacturers from litigation by careless consumers. The warnings aren't required now but no one has ever bothered to remove them."
"This isn't toxic?"
"Only of you swallowed all of it. Just use a little at a time and you'll be fine", Janeway handed the package to Seven. "Reactivate the EMH and have him show you how to use it. And next time just ask the Doctor to explain his actions before you deactivate him."
Seven left the ready room still frowning over the tube of toothpaste
in her hand and its printed warning: IF SWALLOWED CONTACT POISON