Khordelia-Cáo stands in darkness across a small table with eyes closed, feeling the reverberations of a ship's juddering and groaning as she leaves the warp and pierces reality. It runs through his armour, a song that brings forth memories of the grumbling of an old woman as she rose to her feet, the basket of flowers in her arms a contrast to the grim humour she bore on her face. Yet that foreboding left as quickly as it came, her eyes lighting up and her wrinkled cheeks lifting into a smile as he ran towards her. It was a race, but he remembered little of the outcome. The chattering squeaks of young girls and boys, the feuds between cubs of the same litter, the soundest sleep he ever had at the side of an old woman and these children.
But the storm had come. Those memories were the smell of a promising air before the rain, the fragrance of red flowers with thin stems. He did not dwell upon them. The flowers fade, the air lies. Rain did not come, but fat bodied bees of steel - he knew now that it was ceramite - and the eyes of green, translucent jade, hard as the stone with the storm carried within their bodies.
Those days had come and left. War, and war, and war, and war was what he knew. A weapon forged in the eye of a golden god, promised only one terrible fate.
Khordelia knew this well, now knowing better than to trust grey clouds and red flowers.
The ship had calmed down, her bones slowing in their protests. Reality had met them once again.
The fortress awaited. Months of travel had afforded him time to study it and its tale. It was a fine bulwark, example of the Imperium's defiance against the endless night. It was a grand sight, but far from shaking to a veteran of Badab and a hundred wars after.
His cheek twitches at the thought of his fellows at Erioch. Fellow Space Marines were never easy to meet for him, the hot shame of Badab inflamed by their presence and wordless sentence - A judgement worse than execution, for one of his brotherhood.
"Approaching Watch Fortress Erioch, lord. Preparations are being made for your departure."
A voice speaks from outside the locked door, muffled only slightly by the steel. Khordelia makes no response as he hears boots sound out a crisp and clear rhythm as they walk away. Sharn, he thinks, a veteran of many battles in the blackness. A capable man.
Khordelia opens his eyes, looking into the runes carved into his helm that lies on the table alongside his weapons.
He murmurs and begins to prepare his arms. The black-clad await him.
He walks slowly to the chamber where his Kill Team awaits. The past hours have been affairs of mundane activity, allocation of room, maps and more. His armoured stride reveals a tinge of excitement, though the helmed head suggests only stoic nobility.
Now, it is getting interesting. The wyrd was being spun, as Ragnar would have said, and the colours of thread would be locked in the spindle.
He pauses for a moment before he enters the chamber, a wave of unease hitting him. Atonement is never easy, not for a Mantis Warrior. It is why he came here to the Watch Fortress. Atonement, the storm and the sea.
He weathers the tide, and the door hisses before him, opening up.
"Honour to you, warriors. I-"
He recognises the insignia of the Exorcists and the Wolves amongst the Space Marines assembled. Sins and virtues redouble the unease of a repenting warrior.
"I am Khordelia-Cáo of the Mantis Warriors, apothecary of our brotherhood."