“Tell me a lie, boy.”

His voice was near silence. Carried by the merest of fractures in the air between him and the tenuous boy’s ears. Yet it held such weight as a stentorian roar. The boy heard it to his marrow of his bones, and felt the demi-god’s omnipresence analyzing his every thought, breath, and each twitch of his lips.

“Tell me a story. Of myths and legends. Of hulking marines, each a head, and small eager men- each a strand of sinew in the hydra’s neck. Who came before you, boy? What tales have been spun upon your ears?”

As you wish my lord,

There once was a group of wolves in sheep’s clothing who roamed throughout the land. They sought not to eat the sheep, but to free them once more to the wilds. One day, a devious Sheppard sought to capture these sheep and keep them as his own. A trap was set, the group captured, and these “sheep” added to his flock. Some of the wolves despaired, grew fat and lazy, and became nothing more than the sheep they pretended to be. One however, was not so complacent.

When the Sheppard was not looking, he spoke to the sheep in honeyed words and told them tails of the freedoms of the wild. One afternoon, as the Sheppard sat to his meal, and looked over the flock to marvel at what he had built, the sheep sought this freedom they had been promised. Many sheep were slaughtered, for what can one as lowly as a sheep do against the mighty Sheppard and his scythe?

After much hardship, the sheep prevailed, but with his last breath, the Sheppard closed the gates to the pasture, and the sheep were trapped forever. The wolf looked all through the pasture for his sire, but the gates were too numerous and strong. So they waited, and turned the flock into one the sire would be proud of. They wait and wait, until the day the wolves have once more proven they are worthy of the hunt.

“You are a true spinner, young one.”

He presses the boy’s shoulders with too much force, and the intention of a Father, holding him up so he will not crumble.

“I do believe that I will, one day, hear another chapter to that tale. Tell me boy… do you think the wolves are worthy?

“More importantly, do you believe yourself to be worthy?”

His voice drops impossibly lower, rattling the boy to his cartilage with its intention.

“There is a legend I never had fortune to hear the end of. A boy, not very much larger than yourself, born before a thought of you, and known by many names, who played games and molded lies beneath the cloak of a devious beast, he had an ever changing face and an immortal spirit. Some believed he too, would never die, that many would take his place. That his name, whatever it may truly be, would carry on the wind of secrets, disguised just as his face and intentions were.

Have you heard this tale, boy?"

The boy looks up into your eyes, you can tell he intends to lie, even before he does.

“My lord I… I…*the boy sighs deeply and takes a deep breath* Lying to you if like lying to a force of nature. The ship quake cares not for insecurities. The void breach does not take pride into account. The plasma leak will not burn less, to save pride.”

A look of shame crosses the boy’s face

“I do not even know what a wolf is. A sheep, a Sheppard, a pasture, all words that have no meaning to me. I understand the message of the story, but the words mean naught. My world has been so small. I know not what use I can be to you. All I have ever known is this ship and its inhabitants and they were barely more than animals! I can take as much pride from leading them as a man stealing food from an infant!”

The shame slowly melts from his face to be replaced with anger and determination

“Tell me your story master, and from it may I gain the knowledge and strength to one day join you on the hunt!”



Hand of Corruption MollyPayne