(Skip to Content)

The Light Bulb Series: “Radiant Orb” (Enterprise)

Written by

Captain’s Starlog, February 15th, 2153. Our— Computer, Pause. Should I really call this a “Starlog”? “Captain’s Log” is more traditional. But we’re in space, so it probably should be something more modern. Maybe “Star Diary” would be better. No, that sounds like a Hollywood gossip column. I’ll stick with “Captain’s Starlog.” Computer, Resume Log. Our ship is currently en route— Computer, Pause. Should I say “The Enterprise”? If someone’s viewing this log, they’ve seen the data screen so they know what ship this is. On the other hand...

Scene: Sato’s quarters

She is getting ready for bed while practicing with her translation matrix.

Translation matrix
Ou est la plume de ma tante?
Sato
“Where is the feather of my aunt?”
Translation matrix
La plume de ma tante est sur la table.
Sato
“The feather of my aunt is over the table.”
Translation matrix
Ou est la bibliotheque?
Sato
“Where is the teak book?”
Translation matrix
La bibliotheque est a droite.
Sato
The teak book is clev—

Suddenly, a light bulb pops. Sato screams.

Scene: Sato’s quarters

The lighting is low due to the burnt-out bulb. Archer, Trip, T’Pol and Sato are present.

Sato
I’m sorry I screamed, Captain. I know that’s really unprofessional, but I just don’t like to be startled.
Archer
It’s okay, Hoshi. (pats her on the back)

Sato shrieks.

Sato
Sorry. I felt something suddenly touch my back, and I—
Archer
Got it. Just tell us what happened.
Sato
I was getting ready to go to bed, and suddenly my light bulb went out. It happened as I was taking my clothes off.
Trip
That explains your state of dress, but how come T’Pol’s in her underwear?
T’Pol
Do you have a problem with that?
Trip
None whatsoever. Let’s take a look at this bulb. Uh-hunh, stress-fracture. We’ve been having a bumpy ride lately: two gravitometric surges, three subspace jolts, and a paramagnetic shasta. One of those anomalies must have weakened it.
Archer
Well, it’s no problem. Trip, can you run down to supply and get another bulb?

T’Pol looks uncomfortable but says nothing. Phlox enters stooped over and staring at the floor. Noticing the occupants, he straightens up.

Phlox
Oh, hello. One of my specimens seems to have gotten out of her cage. You didn’t see anything scuttle in here just now, did you?
Sato
No.
Phlox
It’s just that she likes to hide in dark places and pounce on her prey.
Archer
Doctor, what exactly—?
Phlox
Oh don’t worry; her sting isn’t fatal. Well, not to Denobulans. Humans and Vulcans are probably safe too. Don’t give it another thought.

Scene: Archer’s Ready Room.

Archer
Computer, Resume Log. Our ship is currently en route for the legendary Calispa Sector. As we approach— Computer, Pause. Do I really need to say “legendary Calispa Sector”? Everyone’s heard the stories; if I simply said “Calispa Sector,” they’d understand the implication.

Trip and T’Pol enter. They glare at each other then turn to Archer.

Archer
Trip, is the new bulb in place?
Trip
No, sir. We don’t have any bulbs to put in place. It seems all of the spare light bulbs were quietly removed before we left Earth. On T’Pol’s order.
Archer
T’Pol, I think you’d better explain yourself.
T’Pol
Well, my superior knowledge provides convenient exposition, my alien status serves as a foil for your humanity, and the contrast between my appearance and demeanor adds both humor and sexual tension.
Archer
I meant explain why you removed the bulbs.
T’Pol
The Vulcan High Command has concluded that humans should have limited access to light bulb technology.
Trip
I am sick of that attitude! If it were up to Vulcans, we’d still be wearin’ bearskins and livin’ in caves.
T’Pol
That’s not true. Vulcans disapprove of wearing fur.
Archer
Dammit T’Pol, sometimes I think you’re more loyal to Vulcan than you are to us.
T’Pol
Please, Captain. I betray them at least as often as I betray you.
Trip
With all due respect, ma’am, we got a sayin’ back home: the hound don’t hunt when the cotton’s full a’ weevils.
Archer
You’re not a real Southerner, are you Trip?
Trip
Now I ain’t right much for book-larnin’, but if’n y’all go check out an atlas, I reckon you’ll find Coral Gables is purt’ near south as you can git.
T’Pol
Sir, I believe I can solve this problem. I happen to know there is a Vulcan science vessel in the vicinity.
Archer
Spying on us?
T’Pol
They are... watching us and including our actions in their weekly report.
Trip
Yeah, right. I can’t believe there’s anyone out there watching us every week.
Archer
We’ll soon find out.

The three exit onto the Bridge. Reed, Sato and Mayweather are present. Archer takes a PADD from T’Pol and hands it to Sato.

Archer
Hoshi, check and see whether there’s a ship at these coordinates.
Sato
Yes, sir... yes, there is. A Vulcan ship.
Archer
Hail them.

A Vulcan appears on screen.

Vulcan
I am Septik, Commander of the Vulcan ship P’Tui. You look as though you might need assistance. Are you unable to cope with the current situation?
Archer
Yes, we are unable to cope with the current situation.
Vulcan
And you believe we could be of help because we are more advanced?
Archer
(gritting his teeth) Yes, you are more advanced than we are.
Vulcan
Now say, “I’m a stupid, stinky, little cry-baby.”
Archer
Now look—!
T’Pol
Your assessment of Captain Archer is incorrect.
Archer
Thank you, T’Pol.
T’Pol
The captain is not little.
Archer
Never mind, Septik. We’ll take care of this ourselves. Close the channel.
Trip
Captain, if we’re not going to ask the Vulcans for help, we’re going to have to find a planet with light bulb technology.
T’Pol
According to historical records, a Vulcan expedition encountered light bulbs when they journeyed to the Calispa Sector two hundred and thirty-five years ago.
Archer
Did they say where they found the bulbs?
T’Pol
Of course not.
Mayweather
Well, we can start looking right now. We’re entering the Calispa Sector.

EXTERNAL SHOT: Enterprise traveling through space.

Scene: The Bridge.

Mayweather
Sir, I’m picking up signals from a mining colony in this system. Based on the emissions, it looks like they might have light bulb technology.
Archer
We’ll check it out. Hoshi, Trip, T’Pol, let’s head for the shuttle. Porthos, you have the conn.
Reed
Uh, sir? Porthos is a dog.
Archer
Yes, but he thinks he’s people. And really, he’s such a smart little guy that—
Reed
No, sir.
Archer
Okay, fine. Malcolm, you have the conn.
T’Pol
I admit he is a better choice...
Reed
Thank you.
T’Pol
...but perhaps I should stay behind and take the conn. After all, I am the Subcommander.
Archer
Granted. But this is a starship. How many times must we go through this?
T’Pol
I don’t think you’ve quite grasped the—
Archer
Look, if we ever find a sub, you’ll be in charge— just like Trip will get to drive if we ever find a train. But for now, you’re both coming with me.

Scene: Surface of the colony planet.

A shuttlepod lands, the doors open, and the crew exits.

Archer
...but if the foul was committed by the defending player within the 2-meter area then the free throw is taken from the 2-meter line —that’s the red line, remember— opposite to where the foul was committed. This isn’t to be confused with a penalty throw, which is always taken from the yellow 4-meter line.
Sato
(to Trip) I don’t care how dangerous it is, next time we’re taking the transporter down.

The crew is spotted by an alien who approaches and bows before them. Sato steps forward and returns the bow.

Sato
Greetings. My name is Hoshi.
Native
Hajime mashite. Watashi wa Takahashi desu.
Sato
This language is like nothing I’ve ever heard before!
Native
Kochira no kaisha wa raito barubu o seizou-shite imasu. (gestures at a case he is carrying) Muryou no mihon o sashi-agemashou ka?
Sato
I can’t understand a word he’s saying.
Native
Do-zo. (long pause) Gomen nasai. (exits)

Scene: The Mess Hall.

Reed and Mayweather are seated at a table.

Mayweather
I don’t see why this is such a big deal. Can’t you just make us a new light bulb?
Reed
How? We’re on a starship in the middle of space! What, do you think we have some sort of magical “replicator” that you just walk up to, say what you want, and it instantly appears?
Mayweather
That would be ridiculous.
Reed
Still, it would be nice, wouldn’t it? Instead of coming down here and waiting for Chef to brew up a pot, I could say “Tea, Orange Pekoe, hot” and get a nice fresh cup whenever I wanted.
Mayweather
Sure. But there must be something that— Orange Pekoe?

Phlox approaches.

Phlox
Ah, I see you’ve chosen the soup.
Reed
Would you care to join us?
Phlox
Oh, no thank you. Does it taste all right?
Mayweather
It’s fine.
Phlox
And you’re not experiencing any dizziness or blurred vision?
Reed
No. Doctor, why are you—?
Phlox
Sorry, no time for pleasantries right now. I have to keep looking for that missing specimen of mine, and she clearly hasn’t been in here.

Scene: The colony.

Trip
What are we going to do now?
Archer
Maybe Hoshi can try asking another native.
T’Pol
She couldn’t understand the last one.
Sato
You may find this difficult to believe, but there are races that speak more than one language.
Trip
Oh come on. Klingons speak Klingon, Vulcans speak Vulcan, Andorians speak Andorian. Having more than one language would be as absurd as having more than one religion.
Sato
I’m going to try anyway. Hello?
Second Native
Hola! Mi nombre es Juan. Como te llamas?
Sato
I can understand him! He said “My number is one. How are your llamas?” Apparently he is the leader of this colony and has mistaken us for llama ranchers. (to native) No tenemos ninguna ganados, Jefe Honrado.

The native backs away a few steps.

Archer
Ask him the name of this colony.
Sato
Jefe, puede usted decir, uh... cual es que este lugar donde estamos siendo?

The native mutters something and stalks off.

Sato
The chief said the name of his colony is Estupida Loca. He left right after telling me that; he must have had some official business to attend to.
Archer
Drat. I wanted to ask him what form of government he had and then give him a self-righteous lecture on why it’s too repressive.
Sato
Sorry. But I’ve got enough now to calibrate the translation matrix.
Archer
Good work. I’m sure everything will go smoothly from here. (shouting) Hey, Estupida woman! Yes, you!

Scene: Sickbay.

Phlox and the landing party are present.

Phlox
Uh-hunh. And how did they treat you during your captivity?
Sato
Not bad. They put us in a nice room and served us tea and cookies. Except for Captain Archer.
Archer
I was shackled and beaten by merciless interrogators.
Phlox
Fortunately, it isn’t serious. A little time with the osmotic eel and the colonic porcupine, and you’ll be as good as new. As for the rest of you, I’m happy to report that no one was contaminated while on the planet.

Trip pulls a wad of bills from his pocket and slips a couple to Phlox.

Phlox
However, a couple of the test results were somewhat inconclusive. Just to be safe, T’Pol and Mr. Tucker should spend some more time together in the decontamination chamber...

Trip slips him another bill.

Phlox
...stripped down to their underwear so their uniforms can be sterilized...

Trip slips him another bill.

Phlox
...and they should rub anti-bacterial ointment on each other, after which they...

Trip, out of money, shakes his head.

Phlox
...will be ready to leave and resume active duty.

Scene: The Bridge

Archer and Sato enter and resume their places.

Mayweather
Sir, alien vessel approaching.
Reed
It looks like an Andorian ship.
Mayweather
They’re charging weapons.
Archer
Raise the sh— er, I mean polarize the hull plating. Lock phas— uh, I mean target our energy weapons. And go to red al— um, I mean let’s get ready to rumble.
Sato
We’re being hailed.
Archer
On screen.
Andorian
Greetings, members of Enterprise. Yes, that’s right; we know the name of your vessel.
Archer
It’s stenciled on the front in large letters.
Andorian
Oh. Right.
Archer
I’m Captain Archer. Perhaps you Andorians can help us out.
Andorian
And what makes you suppose we’re Andorians?
Archer
Well, you’re too big to be a Smurf.

The Andorian glances down at a control panel, then turns angrily to someone off-screen.

Andorian
I said “Audio only.” What part of “Audio only” don’t you understand?! (to Archer, composed) Congratulations. You’ve seen through our little deception.
Archer
Ye-es. Uh, I was wondering if you would give us a light bulb.
Andorian
Interesting. How do you know we possess any light bulbs?
Archer
There’s one right behind you there.
Andorian
Ah, very clever. It seems I have found a worthy opponent.
Archer
Well? Are you going to help us?
Andorian
Yes, we will help you. Or perhaps we will hinder you. For you see...
Archer
I’ve had enough of this. Close the channel.
Andorian
Good bye, then. Or rather, au revoir.
Sato
“To the review”? Anyway, I hate to say it, but I think the Vulcans are right. We can’t cope with this on our own. This light bulb technology seems centuries ahead of us.
Archer
Hoshi, that’s it! (to Reed) Malcolm, go grab the security overrides and meet me in the living section.

Scene: A crewman’s quarters

The door opens, as Reed overrides a security lock. Archer and Reed enter.

Archer
Crewman Daniels was from the 31st century. It stands to reason that if we search his quarters we can find the futuristic technology we need.

He starts rooting through a pile of junk.

Reed
With all due respect sir, we’ve searched Crewman Daniels’ quarters five times since his death.
Archer
And what happened each of those times?
Reed
(mumbling) We found the futuristic technology we needed.
Archer
Uh-hunh. Based on— bingo! I found a light bulb at the bottom of his laundry hamper.
Reed
Sir, I’m a little troubled by all this. Even though Starfleet has yet to develop concepts such as a “Prime Directive,” a “Temporal Directive,” or “Common Sense,” it seems wrong to allow future technology to alter timelines in the past.
Archer
That’s obvious, Malcolm. But we’re not in the past— we’re in the present. So there’s no problem.
Reed
I think you’re missing my point, sir.
Archer
No, it’s fine. We play a part in the Temporal Cold War, so we can do whatever we want. It’s all a matter of interpretation. Like in water polo, when—
Reed
Never mind.

Scene: The Bridge.

Archer is sitting in his chair looking pensive. Phlox is moving around, peering under workstations.

Trip
(over the comm system) Tucker to Captain Archer. We’re out of decontamination now. I’ll install the new bulb, then finish repairs on the Remote Retrieval Mechanism.
Archer
The what?
Trip
(sighing) The “Grappler,” sir. Remember, it got damaged in that skirmish with the Klingons.
Archer
The who?
Trip
(sighing louder) The “Big Meanies,” sir.
Archer
Oh yes. Carry on, Trip.

Archer closes the channel and sinks back into thought. T’Pol enters and resumes her duty station.

Sato
Why so glum, sir? We solved all our problems, except for finding Phlox’s— Yeoowww! (She collapses.)
Phlox
Oh my goodness, we’ve got to get her to Sickbay right away! (Reaches down and grabs something.) There, there, girl! Did the mean lady scare you with her nasty old foot? Well, daddy’s taking you home now.

Phlox exits. Sato struggles to a sitting position.

Sato
(weak) Like I was saying, we solved all our problems.
Archer
Did we? We got the bulb changed, all right. But in the process, we managed to alienate another planet. Everybody who meets us seems to wind up hating us. And I can’t figure out why. Those people even seemed to resent us calling them Estupidans. What did we do to earn such hostility?
T’Pol
You were just being yourselves and behaving like you always do.
Archer
Exactly! I mean, think back over the events that transpired. Can you see any little clues I might be overlooking?
T’Pol
Captain, in my opinion, you are utterly clueless.
Archer
Yeah. (sighs) Oh well, thanks for being on my side.
Mayweather
Hey, cheer up. According to the latest readings, we’ve just left the Calispa Sector. We can put this whole business behind us now.
Archer
Not quite. Computer, resume Log. ...As we approach this fabled sector, I cannot help but wonder whether the stories we’ve heard...

The End

This page was last modified on Wednesday, July 04, 2012.