Dedication III: The Search for Bones
Chapter 4 - Breakthrough


"Delta delta zeta, point beta." He tapped "complete", and said, "Extrapolate."

The computer generated a long stream of data - from college fraternities to novels. The search system didn't seem to know what to do with the "point", so it ignored the word. Jim scanned the various search results, discarding the ones that didn't seem to make sense - which turned out to be most of them.

After about an hour of sifting through results, Jim sighed and pressed his palms to his eyes in frustration. Damm! His sense of urgency was increasing day by day. He still wasn't sure what was going on, or why they were able to interact with Bones, but he was certain now that Bones was in danger. It made his skin crawl to know Leonard was in danger, and to be powerless to help him.

"Stop," he said aloud. "Stop and think." He replayed the scene in his head. Bones' urgent expression, begging him to comprehend the riddle. Do you understand?

Delta delta zeta, point beta. "What did you mean, baby? What did you mean?" He closed his eyes and recalled the conversation to his mind.

"He wants to hurt you."

"Where are you, Leonard?"

"I have to remember. Remember. Delta delta zeta, point beta. That's it!"

Jim snapped his head up. "Numbers! Of course, Jim, he was answering your question!" Suddenly, the "point" made perfect sense. Leonard had obviously felt the need to speak in code for some reason, and "point" must mean "mark". He was so excited he could hardly remember the smattering of Greek he'd studied for Starfleet. "Four, four. zeta. What the hell is zeta?" His fingers sped across the computer interface, and he looked up Greek numbers. "Seven," he whispered. "Four four seven, mark two."

He scrambled to look up the heading, still thinking about what Leonard had said. There was something else besides the coordinates. Ennea and Iota. He wasn't sure about that yet - he was too eager to find out where his husband was to puzzle out more Greek just then.

Jim entered the headings and told the computer to extrapolate from their position on Earth. He knew well enough what he'd find in that direction, but he let the computer search far out from the planet. Still, he found nothing unexpected. He was almost disappointed, but in a moment of inspiration, he located the last known position of the Osler, and calculated the course Leonard had given him from there.

"Oh my God." Jim's eyes widened, and he felt his breath quicken. It was many light years away - so many that it was actually uncanny for Leonard to have known the coordinates. But it was there. He stared at the screen, slowly feeling his mind settle into a nearly unnatural calm. Bones was alive. Jim knew that now. He had to be. And now, through the stillness that settled over him, Jim also knew the rest of what Leonard had meant.

"Ennea is important, too. Iota. Important. Do you understand?"

"I understand," Jim whispered. Ennea. Iota.

Nine.


"Jim, you know I can't authorize that."

"Admiral, please, it's not as if I'd be in any danger."

Barnett frowned. "Not in any danger? Jim, it was on your suggestion that the planet was quarantined in the first place! I read the reports, and I'm in total agreement. What you went through... it's nothing we want any of our people to experience, and I can't understand why you would even consider going back there!"

Jim sighed and looked down at his small glass of sparkling water and tried to hold onto his temper. Bones was out there, and... He took a deep breath and looked up. "Richard. Please. I... I can't explain it, but I know I'm not in any danger from the Verisians. It... I just... feel that it may have something to do with Leonard's death, and-"

"Jim, how can that be," the admiral asked, his tone sympathetic. "The Osler was attacked light years away from Veris III."

"Speaking of that," Jim said, "Do you know what happened to the Ostler's final records?"

Barnett frowned. "They were in the report, Jim."

Jim shook his head. "No, sir. The debris shows that the records had to have been jettisoned twenty minutes before the ship was destroyed. What happened on that ship that we aren't being told?"

The admiral's frowned deepened. "Listen, Jim, I don't really like the implication that something is being intentionally hidden."

"I don't like it either, Admiral," Jim said. "But if there's a chance that I can find out more about what happened to my husband, I think I have that right, don't you?"

The older admiral sighed and looked at him with pity in his eyes. "Jim, I know how much you loved Doctor McCoy. I don't think there are many of us who weren't devastated at the news of his death, and not just for the loss of a brilliant, and a... a good man, but because of what we knew you would go through. But... what more is there to understand?" Jim scowled, and Barnett raised a conciliatory hand. "I'm sorry, Jim. Listen to me. If the Osler sent out final records closer to the time of destruction, then those must have been intercepted or destroyed somehow, because we haven't received them."

Jim's eyes widened. "But... how could... the frequency-"

"Exactly. Whoever did it would have had to know the exact frequency of the transmission in order to block it from us. That means the information was forced from someone, or the person who destroyed the ship had knowledge of Federation protocols. But in the end, there were no survivors, Jim. None of our enemies have claimed responsibility, and no one has made ransom demands on any of the crew, even though they would have to know how valuable a crew like that would have been to the Federation." Barnett sighed and looked at Jim with open pity in his eyes. "Now, Jim, I understand that this is hard for you, but... try to accept what's happened."

Jim pursed his lips. "Rich, all I want is a permit. Just a pass to get out there, take a look around, and come back. It's... it's very important to me. Can't you-"

"Jim, I can't." He shook his head, still looking sympathetic. "I'm the Director of Starfleet, I don't break rules. You know that."

Jim swallowed past a burning sense of anger and disappointment, and forced a smile. He took a swallow of his drink and set down the glass. "Well. I had to try, right?" Barnett smiled, seemingly relieved. "Thanks for hearing me out, my friend."

Richard nodded. "It was the least I could do, Jim. You take care of yourself, okay?"

Jim stood, still wearing the forced smile. "I will, Rich, thanks." He turned away, keeping his mildly pleased expression plastered on until he got out of the room. When the door closed, he sighed heavily, and leaned on his cane. "Damn," he whispered. It didn't matter. Not really. He was going to Veris III, whether he was allowed to go or not. But it would have been nice to be able to do so without ruining his career.


Chapter 3
Chapter 5

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