The Light Bulb Series: “Beacon of Hope” (Deep Space Nine)
By Peter Anspach
Station Commander’s Personal Log, Stardate 47829.6. Now that I’ve settled into my job as station commander, I am beginning to appreciate the differences that come with this command. There’s a lot more than having an Operations Center instead of a Bridge. On a starship, any second can bring a major disaster. But on a space station, it’s the seemingly minor problems of daily routine that bring the greatest challenge.
Scene: Sisko’s Quarters
Sisko: Go ahead, son. Tell me what’s on your mind.
Jake: How important is friendship, Dad?
Sisko: What do you mean?
Jake: Well, let’s say a friend wants you to do something. You’re pretty sure that what he wants you to do isn’t right, but on the other hand, he is your friend and you don’t want to disappoint him. What should you do?
Sisko: Jake, this is one of life’s most important lessons. In matters like this, there can only be one answer. You should—
Kira: (over communicator) Bridge to Commander Sisko.
Sisko: Go ahead, Major. And Major: we don’t have a Bridge.
Kira: Sorry; I meant Ops. Anyway there’s something strange on the sensors. You’d better get up here.
Sisko: On my way. Jake, we’ll have this talk later.
He exits. A few seconds later, the door opens and Nog enters.
Nog: Come on, Jake. Let’s go use that neural disruptor I stole.
Jake: I don’t know if—
Nog: Come on; shooting people on the Promenade won’t be any fun unless you’re along. Besides, you promised.
Jake: Uh, well...
Dax is at her station, with Kira and Bashir looking over her shoulder. O’Brien is working in the background. Sisko enters.
Sisko: What is it?
Kira: There’s a strong flow of particles coming toward us. It looks as if it’s some sort of stellar wind.
Dax suddenly places her hand to her head, but shakes it off.
Bashir: Take a look, Commander. Isn’t it interesting?
Sisko: (peering) Do you think that this poses a threat to the station?
Dax: I doubt it. It looks to be a relatively mild phenomenon. We’ve survived storms worse than this. But even though the speed is slow, the particles are densely packed.
Bashir: Look at that swirl over there! It looks just like a fuzzy little bunny.
Sisko: Is there any record of such storms in the past?
Dax: Not that I’m aware of. I’ll run a search through the database, but I doubt if I’ll come up with anything.
Bashir: And that one looks like a big friendly dog!
Kira: (whispering to Sisko) He’s been like this for the past hour.
Sisko: Doctor, shouldn’t you be in Sickbay?
Bashir: (shrugging) There’s nothing to do down there. I thought I’d just come up to the Bridge and keep you all company.
Sisko: We don’t have a Bridge; this is Ops.
Dax places both hands to her head and winces.
Bashir: Dax! What’s wrong?
Dax: (managing a weak smile) It’s nothing really, Julian. I’ve just been getting these headaches.
Bashir: I’d better examine you. Strip down to your underwear.
Kira: For a headache?
Bashir: One can’t be too careful, Major.
Dax: No, really, I’m fine. It’s just that that flickering light above my workstation is distracting.
Bashir: Good God! Do you know the kind of problems that could cause? Headaches, depression... it can even trigger certain forms of epilepsy!
Sisko: Quick. Everybody clear this console. O’Brien, come here and turn off the light.
O’Brien: Can’t you do it yourself, Sir? I’m changing the coffee filter on the replicator.
Sisko: (sternly) Technical support is your responsibility, Chief.
O’Brien sighs, moves over to the console and switches the light off.
O’Brien: If I might make a recommendation? We should replace it with an incandescent bulb to prevent a recurrence of this situation.
Sisko: Very well.
Kira: What? What?
O’Brien: I’ll have to go to Storage since we don’t keep any spares on the Bridge.
Sisko: We couldn’t very well keep any on the Bridge, since we don’t have a Bridge, do we?
O’Brien: I meant Ops.
Kira: (upset) Commander, I—
Bashir: Come here quick!
Sisko: (dashing over) What is it?
Bashir: You missed it. There was one that looked just like a duck.
Sisko: Doctor, why don’t you run down to Storage and bringing us back a 75-watt light bulb?
Bashir: (proudly) You can count on me. (He leaves.)
Kira: (visibly angry) Commander, we’ve got to talk now!
Sisko: (sighing) In my office.
They enter his office. Kira is obviously agitated.
Kira: How could you?! How could you possibly agree to such a thing?!?
Sisko: Major, will you please relax?
Kira: Relax? Relax? How do you expect me to relax in a uniform this tight?
Sisko: Well, at least calm down enough to tell me what the problem is.
Kira: (impassioned) Oh, I’ll tell you what the problem is! The problem is the Federation’s usual arrogance and insensitivity. For centuries, Bajor has used fluorescent light bulbs. Our vedeks have declared that fluorescence is the only acceptable form of illumination, and it is a belief that reaches to the core of every Bajoran. I’m warning you: don’t force me to choose between my beliefs and the Federation!
Sisko: I’d really prefer incandescent.
Kira: Oh, okay.
They return to Ops.
Bashir: (over communicator) Bashir to Sisko. We don’t have any 75-watt bulbs.
Sisko: Then bring one of the old 60-watt bulbs.
Bashir: Frosted or clear?
Bashir: I can’t find any frosted ones.
Sisko: Okay, bring us a clear one.
Bashir: (after a pause) Actually, I can’t seem to find any clear ones either.
Sisko: Okay, Doctor. Take it nice and slow. What kind of bulbs do we have?
Bashir: None whatsoever. It looks as if someone stole them all.
Sisko: Then why didn’t you—! Oh, forget it.
Scene: The Promenade
Sisko and Odo are walking.
Odo: And all the bulbs were gone?
Sisko: Yes. By the time— Arrgh!
He jerks and keels over. Odo helps him up.
Sisko: (disoriented) What was that?
Odo: Oh, some juvenile delinquents stole a neural disruptor and have been shooting people on the Promenade. I’ll catch them sooner or later.
Sisko: I sure hope Jake is safe in our quarters. You don’t know what a responsibility it is, trying to be a single parent while running this station. Well, good luck on your investigation.
He departs. Odo turns and enters Quark’s. Quark is polishing the bar.
Quark: Hello, Constable. What can I do for you today?
Odo: I’m investigating the theft of Federation light bulbs. What do you know about it?
Quark: Me? Nothing! I’m a legitimate businessman.
Rom rushes in carrying a cardboard box. Quark is frantically gesturing to him, but he is oblivious.
Rom: Brother, brother! Look what I stole! Just like you told me to.
Quark sighs and points to Odo. Rom squeals, drops the box, and runs off.
Odo: (triumphantly) Aha! You’re under arrest for the light bulb theft.
Quark: What do you mean? You have no evidence.
Odo: I’d say this box was evidence, wouldn’t you?
Quark: The box? That’s just some supplies for the bar.
Odo: Then why is the word ‘light bulbs’ written on it?
Quark: This box is full of tulips that I’m going to decorate the bar with. This is a hybrid specially developed to have light bulbs. See? Nothing to it.
Odo: (skeptical) Oh yeah? Why is it stamped “Property of the Federation”?
Quark: (impatiently) Because the hybrid was developed at a Federation nursery. These tulips were grown on property belonging to the Federation.
Odo: Your brother said he stole it. Under your instructions.
Quark: He was speaking figuratively. I drove such a hard bargain, we were able to purchase the bulbs for less than he expected.
Odo: (frowning) Hmmm. I still have my suspicions. I’m going, but be warned: I’ll be watching every move you make and if I find one shred of evidence to implicate you in the light bulb theft, you’ll regret the day you ever came aboard this station.
Scene: Sisko’s Office
Sisko is seated behind his desk when Jake enters.
Jake: Dad? Are you busy?
Sisko: Not at all, son. I’m glad you came; it gives us a chance to have that talk I promised earlier.
Jake: Actually, there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about. You remember that Bajoran girl I thought was kind of cute?
Sisko: You mean General Danar’s daughter? The one we met at the reception last month?
Jake: That’s right, Danar Kel. I finally got up the nerve to ask her out, and she said yes. We’re going to go out on a date this evening.
Sisko: Jake, that’s wonderful!
Jake: Yeah. But I’m worried.
Sisko: About what?
Jake: Well, I— I’m not sure how to treat a girl on a date.
Sisko: Son, there’s a simple answer. Every good relationship is based upon mutual resp—
Suddenly the station rocks violently and red alert klaxons go off. Kira bursts into the office.
Kira: Commander, that storm’s hit and all hell’s breaking loose out there!
Sisko: I’ll talk to you later, Jake, I promise. What exactly is going on, Major?
Kira: The particle storm is thicker than we thought. It’s swept up the station and carrying us with it.
He and Kira leave the office and enter Ops. Dax, O’Brien and Bashir are present.
Dax: We have a serious problem. I need to get to my station to fire our maneuvering jets or the stellar wind will push us straight into the wormhole. The station isn’t designed for such a journey and is sure to break up.
Dax: Yes. You know; our link to the Gamma Quadrant.
Sisko, O’Brien, Bashir and Kira just stare blankly at each other.
Dax: The only known stable wormhole in existence?
More blank stares.
Dax: Our justification for being out here in the first place?
Chorus: Oh, right, right. Yeah, that wormhole. Sure.
Odo: Sorry to disturb you. I’m going over the whole station for clues, and I thought I’d check out the Bridge.
Sisko: I don’t think you’ll find any clues on the Bridge, Odo. And do you know why? It’s because we don’t have a Bridge! The only people with Bridges are starship captains that go to all sorts of exciting places, not commanders stuck on antiquated space stations that just sit there while everyone else— Uh, anyway, our first priority is finding a temporary replacement.
O’Brien: I have an idea. Why couldn’t Odo change himself into a light bulb?
Odo: I don’t have that much precision. To allow the current to travel through my body unimpeded would require more control than I can manage.
O’Brien: Well, how about this? Odo could change into a Saurian Glow-Beast. They give out lots of light, enough for us to see by.
Odo: Sorry. I’ve never seen a Saurian Glow-Beast.
O’Brien: You could get the specifications from our database. I’m sure—
Odo: It wouldn’t work. I’d have to see one in person.
O’Brien: (suspiciously) You know, I haven’t seen you change shape in over a month.
Odo: I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
Odo: (distinctly) You know, a coincidence. Like the fact that we haven’t seen your wife out in public for over a month either. Now let’s just drop the whole subject.
Dax: Look, there’s obviously no other way. I’ll just go to my workstation and use the old bulb.
Bashir: Are you crazy? That could cause permanent damage! Perhaps someone would have done that back in the 20th century when governmental pandering to big business led to appalling occupational safety standards, but we’re long past that barbaric stage of development.
Dax: I know. But if it helps save the station, I’m willing to face death.
Bashir: I said ‘damage.’ I don’t think it’d be fatal.
Dax: No, really, I don’t mind the sacrifice. I’ve led a long and fulfilling life; it’s time for me to end it and give the rest of you a chance to live.
Sisko: No, old friend, that won’t be necessary.
Dax: Really, Benjamin, I’d gladly kill myself for you. Or cut off an arm. How about that? Can I at least cut off my arm?
Sisko: Oh God, she’s in one of those moods again. Major, would you mind?
Kira: (wearily) Yeah, sure.
Dax and Kira are seated at a table.
Dax: (mellow) How about just a finger? I don’t need all ten...
Kira: Just finish your drink.
Quark: Can I get you lovely ladies a refill? You look like you could use another drink.
Dax: (sighing) It’s that light bulb problem. You wouldn’t happen to have any light bulbs, would you?
Quark: Sorry. Why don’t you just use the replicators to make a new bulb?
Kira: Why don’t you use the replicators to make all the gold-pressed latinum you want?
Quark: Uh, um... the replicators can’t make gold-pressed latinum.
Kira: Then I guess they can’t make light bulbs either.
Quark: Point taken. Well, I guess if you ladies are desperate, I could arrange for a three-way.
Kira: I thought you were out of light bulbs.
Quark: Who said anything about light bulbs?
Kira lunges for him. Quark manages to escape and runs out of the bar.
Dax: Aren’t you overreacting?
Kira: To something that offensive?
Dax: Actually, I find it kind of amusing.
Dax: In one sense it’s sort of flattering, but mostly I just feel pity for poor old Quark.
Kira: Let me guess: when you sign your name, you dot the ‘I’ with a smiley-face, don’t you?
Dax: (beaming) I think it helps to brighten everyone’s day.
Kira: You’ll excuse me. I have to go vomit.
Scene: The Promenade
Sisko and Odo are walking and stop in front of Odo’s office.
Sisko: So you haven’t managed to uncover anything?
Odo: Not a clue. I still think Quark is involved, though.
The door to Odo’s office opens and Quark walks out carrying Odo’s chair.
Odo: What are you doing with my chair?
Quark: This isn’t your chair; this is my chair.
Odo: It looks like my chair.
Quark: I know. You have impeccable taste in office furniture. That’s why I decided to get a chair exactly like yours.
Odo: Then why was it in my office?
Quark: I wanted to make sure it was a good copy, so I brought it in there to compare it.
Odo: (peering into his office) Well if that’s your chair, then where’s my chair?
Quark: It appears somebody stole it. A great disappointment for me. Now I’ll never know whether this is a good copy or not.
Odo: (suspiciously) All right. But I’m still investigating the light bulb theft, and I still think you had something to do with it. You’ll slip up eventually. If only that box you have marked “Light bulbs: Property of the Federation” were a bit more conclusive...
Sisko turns with a startled to look at Odo, then turns back and eyes Quark.
Sisko: Uh, Quark, you realize that if we don’t find a replacement light bulb we’ll all be killed. Including you.
Sisko: That’s right.
Quark: I’m glad you’re here, Commander; I was just on my way to see you. It seems that there was a mix-up with my tulip shipment and the supplier sent a box full of light bulbs by mistake. I’d be happy to sell you one.
Sisko folds his arms.
Quark: (quickly) Give you one! I meant give you one as a gesture of good will. In fact, you can have them all!
Sisko: That’s most generous of you. Odo, I think you can stop looking for the missing bulbs.
Odo: Excellent. It will allow me to devote more of my time to the chair investigation.
Scene: Sisko’s Office
Sisko is seated at his desk when Dax enters.
Dax: Good news: the new bulb is in place, we’re out of the storm, and everything’s back to normal on the Bridge.
Sisko: We— Oh, never mind.
Odo: I’m happy to report I have a chair again.
Dax: Where did you find the missing chair?
Odo: Actually, I never did. Quark sold me his at a reasonable price. It’s amazing how much it resembles my old chair; I can’t even tell the difference.
Sisko: That’s good news. You have your chair, Dax has her light bulb, Bashir is back in Sickbay, O’Brien found his wife, and Kira is having her uniform let out a little. (leans back in his chair) Everything’s been taken care of.
Scene: Jake and Nog sitting on the Promenade walkway
Jake: I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense.
Nog: It’s called ‘playing hard to get’. All you have to remember is that when a girl says ‘no’, she really means ‘yes’...