Vikings of Scorpio


By Pete Smith

Contents

Chapter 1: Sygar and I make the Pappatu
Chapter 2: Language Lessons
Chapter 3: A Long Way from Home
Chapter 4: The Road to Raviksmot
Chapter 5: The Battle of the Barrels
Chapter 6: Wrangling
Chapter 7: Saved by the Bell
Chapter 8: I am Invited to Dinner

 
 

Chapter 1: Sygar and I make the Pappatu

It is with great trepidation that I relate to you the story of Sygar Sygarhan, the man who has occupied my attention greatly the last few weeks.

Those who know me know that I am a great fan of a series of novels known as the Dray Prescot Saga, which prior to a few months ago I believed was a work of fiction. However, some evidence that the strange and wonderful world of Kregen may in fact be real has come to my attention; that evidence is in the person of Sygar Sygarhan.

A friend of mine who I had introduced to the series was (and still is, actually) an intern at the Queen Street West mental institution, and related to me the background of one of the patients there, one "John Doe", a violent man who it was believed at that time had some sort of mental disorder, though the details of his diagnosis remain a little fuzzy. This man did not seem to speak any English, or for that matter any language known to the people in the institution. Attempts at communication had largely failed primarily due to his violent behaviour; virtally any opportunity that was presented to "John Doe" to assault the workers in the institution and escape was taken; "John Doe" proved to be so unmanageable that ultimately it became necessary to sedate him most of the time.

John Doe had originally been discovered in the stairwell of an office tower downtown, somewhere near the 60th floor. Using a fire axe he had brutally murdered two businessmen who worked in the building. At the time he was completely naked, and appeared to be raving, though as I mentioned before this was partly due to his inability to speak English. When the police arrived, John Doe was chased by them through the 59th floor and ultimately captured; however, in the fracas one officer was seriously injured and John Doe was shot several times. There was one witness to the double homicide, a woman who also worked in the building, who was not attacked by John Doe but may have been the victim of some other incident, possibly involving the two dead men. Police and city officials have been very quiet on the subject, claiming that the woman is under police protection and cannot be named.

A few weeks later a variety of arrests were made by police in the fields of international smuggling, particularily arms dealing and the illegal transport of immigrants from various points in Asia to North America. Apparently these arrests were facilitated by evidence discovered in the offices of the two dead men. The press has speculated wildly on the nature of the two men's involvement, although the records are apparently sealed until the matter can go to trial.

Meanwhile, upon regaining consciousness, John Doe became immediately violent, attempting to escape from the hospital where he was recieving treatment for his gunshot wounds. Over the next few days, at least four altercations occurred in which John Doe attempted to escape custody. The only solution seemed to be strong restraints and sedation, which was used liberally.

John Doe continued to prove unmanageable when transferred to a prison facility awaiting trial. He seemed unresponsive to any sort of disipline applied to him and spent a good deal of his time in solitary confinement. Because of the inability of John Doe to either speak English or cooperate with the prison authority any meetings between John Doe and his crown-appointed attorney were impossible, and would have been futile even if John Doe had not attacked anyone in a uniform who entered his cell, again because he could not understand English, and no one could even figure out what language he did speak.

Ultimately John Doe was transferred to the Queen West mental hospital, where he was diagnosed as some sort of violent psychotic. He continued to be virtually unmanageable without heavy use of sedatives. Eventually the hospital authorities reached the conclusion that his language must be some sort of self-invented gibberish, which may have had meaning for John Doe, but had no meaning to anyone else. John Doe became a sort of showcase study, and new diagnoses were made regularily, as a variety of theories were made to explain his condition. It turned out, however, that none of them were right.

At one point about a year after being admitted, John Doe was involved in yet another altercation with some orderlies; despite the fact that he was in a straitjacket he was able to put up quite a fight. At this point my friend Alex Riardan was working in the area and had the opportunity to observe the fracas. While Alex could not understand the bulk of what John Doe was saying, at one point, after it appeared he had subdued on of the orderlies, John Doe shouted:

"Hai! Jikai!"

Alex recognized the phrase from the Dray Prescot Saga books I had lent him; it can have many meanings, but one of them is as a sort of battle cry.

Thinking quickly, Alex shouted "Lahal", the Kregish term for "hello", or "greetings". John Doe looked up, stunned, at Alex. Alex told me that the look of astonishment was clear on John Doe's face; it was clear to Alex that John had understood him; like a thunderbolt it hit John Doe that someone yet on this world might understand him. However, this momentary distraction was enough for the orderlies to regain the upper hand, and they brought John Doe down with a tackle and the blows of batons.

I was contacted by Alex about a week after that. It seemed that he had brought this up with the hospital administration, and after a great deal of cajoling they had agreed to pursue the notion that he might posess a vocabulary based on these works of fiction. However, Alex's knowledge of the books was limited to the first couple, which I had lent him, and he had not even finished the second, Suns of Scorpio. At first he simply asked to borrow more books. I was delighted that he was showing interest, although when he suggested that I lend him the entire series, I was a little reticient. After all, I value my collection, and am careful to protect it from undue use. I asked him what his reasons were and he began to relate to me the story of John Doe.

Naturally I was fascinated. The notion that there might be a man who could somehow only speak Kregish was something I found remarkable. Though at the time I thought the books were simply works of fiction, I was nevertheless excited by the notion that someone could have so completely immersed themselves in the books as to subsume his own personality, though I thought it a little frightening that he had ended up being so violent as a result; I thought that might reflect badly on the books, and I was (and still am) a fan.

I convinced Alex to suggest to the hospital administration that I be brought in as an "Expert", since I had the benefit of reading the entire series several times over, while Alex hadn't even finished the second book. I was a little surprised when the hospital accepted my proposal, though I also had to sign a waiver claiming that I would not hold the hospital liable should I be injured throught the course of my involvement with the John Doe case.

Three days later I was brought to a chamber in the hospital which was divided in two portions by a thick plexiglass shield. The shield was transparent and had a number of small holes through which sound could travel. On the other side stood John Doe, who glared at me sullenly.

And I must say, he did look a fright.

His eyes were what caught my attention first; they were red and puffy, and it looked like he had got a lot of mileage out of both sedatives and the abuse of the orderlies, along with a hefty dose of not enough sleep; somehow this only seemed to accentuate his angular, harsh features. His dark hair was matted and thrust about crazily, his fingernails were dirty and uneven, and his clothes looked a little tattered and stained; he wore the typical patient's pajamas. He stood about my height or just slightly shorter (about six foot, perhaps), and while he did not seem to me to be an exceptionally big man, there was something about his body that suggetsed a heavy, dense, power; despite the baggy clothes he seemed mostly muscle.

I sat in the chair in front of the sound holes and said:

"Llahal and Lahal".

These, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the terms, are the two forms of greetings used on Kregen; the first (with the double-L) represents a greeting used with strangers, and the second is one used among friends. I actually butchered the pronunciation of the first "Llahal", as it is pronounced with a Welsh LL sound, which I did not know how to produce.

His eyes widened, and after a moment he practically lunged at the window, jabbering at me in Kregish, plaintively beeging me to do something, which I assumed had to do with his release. I held up my hand, and in a moment he stopped speaking, unsure of what was happening.

I spoke again, saying "Kregish", and indicating a tiny amount with my fingers. After a moment he understood, and said:

"Llahal e Lahal."

Well, I now knew how to pronounce "Llahal", and knew I had said it wrong the first time.

I then said: "Pappattu", which I knew is the Kregish word for "introduction", and said "Pete Smith", while holding my hand to my chest. I gave him a curt nod.

He understood immediately. He smiled, and indicated himself, saying:

"Sygar Sygarhan".

And that was the beginning of our relationship.

*     *     *

Chapter 1: Sygar and I make the Pappatu
Chapter 2: Language Lessons
Chapter 3: A Long Way from Home
Chapter 4: The Road to Raviksmot
Chapter 5: The Battle of the Barrels
Chapter 6: Wrangling
Chapter 7: Saved by the Bell
Chapter 8: I am Invited to Dinner