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

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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