"Not all 'stupid adventurer traps' have treasure on the other side."
Jumpspace between Gateway and Riden
Max tries three times to psychically divine a path to Viktor. First he rolls for nines, and thinks that there is a path, sort of. That is, there are two paths: one he doesn't know how to go along, and the other, different, path, which is to keep going the way he's going now.
Second, about halfway through the trip, he rolls for thirteens, and thinks that for the first path, they might be able to follow it in the Hippocrates, with Ace. But with the group they have - no.
Third, towards the end of the trip, he rolls for sevens, and there's definitely a path to Viktor because he's right outside the door, pounding on the airlock and calling to be let in. Max gets up to answer the door.
Katya TK-grabs Max while Akito grabs him, and there is much insisting that this isn't really Viktor. Ciernan does detect-and-analyze-metal on the airlock, rolling for sevens, and checks to see if "Viktor"'s pounding is denting the door. It seems to be softening, in fact.
Max checks with the sensors, and confirms that it's Viktor outside. In fact, whoever it is is Viktor's height and weight and blood type - but Max doesn't know Viktor's blood type. Okay, Max is willing to believe this isn't really Viktor, it's something that detects as Viktor. Creepy.
Akito notes that the jumpgate exit is getting kind of close.
Katya sends icky nasty thoughts to Viktor outside, while Akito throws the ship into evasive action (though it's hard to know how to evade someone who is standing outside a moving spaceship). Everyone tries very hard not to look outside to see if there's a Viktor there, until Max listens and hears the pounding - though it's fainter now.
Ciernan checks the airlock door, again rolling for sevens, and notes that it's gotten a lot softer. This is worrisome. He doesn't remember what the airlock used to look like, though (the door was open when he came in!), so he's not sure how much it's changed.
Twig says he might be able to replace the airlock door to make it spaceworthy, but he won't be able to make a new door be exactly identical to the old door, not with the materials he has on hand.
Katya tries "Sense Familiar Mind" for Martan, rolling for sevens, and then Martan is shouting to be let in from outside the ship. "Martan" manages to punch through the outer airlock (now the consistency of pudding) and starts pounding on the inner door. Katya wails angrily and collapses.
Watts throws the Dancer into a tight spin - which seems to stretch something to breaking - and then out through the gate. There's a horrible, sickening physical distortion (a severe bridge lurch combined with a lot of CGI glass-ripple effects), emanating from the side with the airlock and passing all the way through the ship and the people aboard. Watts' impressive piloting keeps the Dancer from exploding very badly at the configuration change of "small hole in the airlock", though it does still lose four body and is dead in space (and all the people in the ship lose up to four body. Katya falls over).
From the outer cameras, the hole into the airlock seems to have a shimmery effect in it, sort of like hot air. Riden sends a tug out to tow the Dancer in, but while it's on its way, about twelve hours after the Dancer has exited, a big strange-looking ship exits the gate. It maintains an ominous radio silence at first, but then starts blinking its lights in a somewhat antiquated binary code (like Morse).
"Hello do you read? Over. Hello do you read? Over..."Max blinks the Dancer's lights back at them, and in traditional fashion want to know who they are. They identify themselves as the Anglerfish, Omninet Benthic Researcher Two, but that's not important - the important thing is that Viktor Marchant is on board!
Eventually more of an explanation is forthcoming (and a whole bunch more ships are dispatched) - apparently they're an Omninet R&D ship built to do [classified] research in the slowjump, and they've just finished a one-month trip from Gateway to Riden. About three weeks ago, they picked up a distress signal from an escape pod that came very close to them and with [unspecified classified experimental technology] they were able to pull the pod down into the slowjump zone and dock with it. In addition to the pilot, Grady Hollimon, the passengers on board are Viktor, his two Elite, and Dylanna.
Viktor's story, which he is happy to tell pretty much everyone, is that Dylanna had learned of the treachery in which a saboteur had attached a bunch of camouflaged limpet mines along the keel of the ship, which would destroy it on exit. There wasn't much time left before exit, so they got to an escape pod (apparently there was some dramatic "come with me if you want to live!" at the time), and Dylanna knew some of the details of the Omninet research vessel, as well as their operating frequencies, enabling Viktor to get near enough in hyperspace that it could [classified] and pick them up. If only the Omninet radio hadn't glitched out, they could have sent word that he was okay!
Word is sent back through the jump gate to the Hegemon, who's now in Gateway, but all of Riden seems to be going into a general spontaneous celebration, and the Dancer's crew seem to be declared heroes too just from general proximity.