Fomorians In Their Own Words: Ms S.

I will not tell where I was born – let the fact that it was a surface village of the League be enough. As a citizen of the League, I sat through the endless classes on being a good citizen. We were taught that everyone must pull their weight in the League for the common good. To Leave No Feartollán Behind. I went to Mass like everyone else. I attended the Civil Defence training sessions, even as my parents struggled to pay the levies and tithes to support the militias. I planned to become a nurse.

None of it made the slightest difference. One of Connacht Trading’s security guardsmen accused me of being a thief and a Fomorian sympathiser, and everybody I knew turned a blind eye as he removed me from my home without a trial. Just like that.

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Spycrabs & Warbirds now available

Now available from BuyMeACoffee!

Tales From A Fomorian Detention Centre is now available!

My second short story collection is now live, both on this site and on Buy Me A Coffee.

Washing-up Wrangling

“Hey, Red!”

Diarmuid morosely looked up from the lukewarm sink that held two stained metal plates, and narrowed his eyes as he beheld the stocky younger boy with the fangs and green patches of skin next to the draining board. “What is it, Grady?”

“Me name’s Tomás. Nurse said you could use a hand.”

“I could. And mine’s Diarmuid. Not Red, or Red-Eyes, or freak…” he trailed off with an irritable sigh. Grady briefly exposed more of his fangs as his mouth silently worked, before he picked up a tea-towel and began to wipe the plate that lay on the draining board. For a few minutes, neither spoke as Diarmuid focussed on scrubbing the plates and tried to ignore the sidelong glances the other boy gave him. Eventually, he couldn’t take it any more.

“Go on…you want to say something, just get it out.”

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The Dwarven Inqusition Comes…

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! But what about that of the Dwarven League?

The knock on the door was something that Colonel Munro had been expecting for the last five or ten minutes, after the telephone on his desk had warned him that the visitors had arrived at the inner security checkpoints. Closing the pair of dossiers and the report that lay on his desk, he looked up and barked a command to enter. His adjutant swung the door open, announcing that the visitors from the Containment Office had arrived.

“Send them in, Cole. And have somebody fetch Dr Magnusson,” Munro ordered, standing up. The lieutenant withdrew and stepped aside, revealing a pair of nuns who were both clad in dark khaki habits. The one on Munro’s right was just about four feet high, with larger eyes and a pair of sun goggles dangling around her neck – clearly a woman of the tunnels. The other one was apparently human and, with far fewer lines on her face, appeared to be younger. Neither bore any obvious sign of a particular order, but they didn’t need to.

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Tappers and the Office of Containment

Here’s a couple of artwork pieces I’ve been working on for Connacht Disaster Zone. One is a logo for a dwarven organisation that is responsible for investigating “Fomorian infiltration” in the areas immediately surrounding the disaster zone, and the second below the fold is one of their propaganda posters.

I’m not 100% sure on the grammar of this, but this translates roughly as “Office of Containment”. They’re effectively a secret police organisation under the auspices of the dwarven church, with a fair amount of authority (and some friction with other units). I’m planning to add a few stories that involve them.

I had the original image completed a week ago, following this GIMP tutorial, and most of the intervening time has spent been trying to figure out a name for the unit. All of them were longer and more haphazardly spelled; I’ve occasionally joked that the first person to write Irish down must been severely dyslexic.

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Fomorian Fantasies of the Future

Gráinne was bored. Outwardly, her expression didn’t change as she stared out the window, absently watching the waves in the bay, but she was still feeling peevish about being chased out of the library earlier that morning. Sure, her mother and father-in-law needed to discuss something in quiet with Aidan, but did it really have to be when she had just curled up in the armchair? And it wasn’t her shift on the wireless scanning rota, so she couldn’t even make herself useful by listening to the enciphered messages that Aidan suspected were coming from somewhere named Cruagh Island.

Her train of thought didn’t so much leap as make a sharp right-hand turn into wondering who they were meant for, and if it was possible to reach across the sea with these radio waves. Not the immediate one between Cleggan and Inishbofin, but the wider sea out towards North America. And if so, could they reach the other side of the world…and if so, could they be used to send something other than dotted bleeps and dashed creeps?

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A Useful Politician

This is a follow-up to In Which The Kingdom of Scandinavia Plans To Troll The British Navy. I had originally planned to have a crate of guns be discovered on a beach somewhere, and have the police/soldiers who found it speculate on who put them there. However, when reading about Joseph McCarthy for some reason (I blame TV Tropes!), I noticed that both Truman and Eisenhower made snarky comments about how he might as well be an asset of the Soviets, given how irrational he made attempts to root out Soviet spies in the American government look.

Apparently, the KGB shared a very similar opinion to Truman and Eisenhower. Between that and the mess that is the last few years, it occurred to me that a similar politician might be a useful asset to the Scandinavians (or anyone else trying to stir up trouble for the British Empire, for that matter).

As usual, there’s a PDF version here. The formatting there is probably a bit better than here; WordPress’ block editor takes some getting used to.

Just one letter. That was all she had to do – post a letter. The gentleman with the genial smile, vaguely Continental accent and the icy blue eyes had paid her two pounds for a penny-rate letter, already stamped and addressed. He’d hinted that she might find it useful to write one herself.

Mrs Lynch smiled to herself as she approached the postbox just outside Heuston Station, revealing a haphazard array of tobacco-stained teeth. Hardly the best pay for her little favours, but quite good for such a trivial task and the extra two pounds would be very useful if Jimmy, Anna or Michael caught the flu again.

The name on the envelope was one she knew well. Jonathan Butler, County Councillor for Galway-Roscommon. Anyone in Connacht – the parts that hadn’t been overrun by the Fomorians – knew of him. A hollow-cheeked man with a very intense stare, frequently in the papers over London’s lack of support for Connacht. Sure, there was a heavy military presence, but not a lot else. Perhaps the man with the blue eyes wanted him to draw some more attention to this again.


“Jonathan? A letter arrived from Dublin. You might find it worrying.”

“Oh?” Jonathan Butler looked up from the dry, verbose report on education standards in the province. Sarah handed him the letter, her normally sunny face set into a grim frown. He frowned in turn and scanned it. His eyebrows ran north along his face as he read, stopping about halfway towards his hairline.

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More character sketches

During the last weekend, after a planned family meetup that partly fell through due to Covid, I started working on a couple of new character sketches. All the characters here have come up in some of the short stories I’ve posted under the Connacht Disaster Zone project.

The children in the yard

This was lying around for a while and was originally just the two lads in the centre (Seamus and Diarmuid), but then I added the girls (Maebh and Siobhán). Diarmuid was the very first character I created for the series; in the early stages, he was a Solid Snake-type character that almost everyone feared. In the current iteration, he’s just a kid (with an admittedly unusual eye colour) who was kidnapped and experimented on. What hasn’t changed is that being the village freak has left him cynical and bitter, with a low opinion of people in general.

Siobhán was originally an orc-raised human who became his (probable) girlfriend, but when I shifted Diarmuid into his current form, I did something similar with her. She went through a few iterations – the daughter of a doctor exiled to the edge of the disaster zone for blasphemy/heresy/whatever the Dwarven Inquisition deemed him guilty of, then an exile herself, and then another test subject. In contrast to Diarmuid, she’s more willing to trust authority figures – or at least is less openly hostile towards them.

From left to right: Maebh, Seamus, Diarmuid and Siobhán.

Maebh and Seamus aren’t viewpoint characters yet, but it’s something I’d like to do. Maebh has only come up in one story so far (Night Shift), and is the daughter of a pair of slavers. I’m considering a story wherein she discusses the disaster zone from the Fomorians’ perspective. Seamus has had slightly more page time in Fomoritis Confirmed as Diarmuid’s only friend apart from Siobhán, and in Nightmare by commenting on how the Fomorians’ green skin fungus dies if you stand out in the sun long enough. Both he and Maebh are intended to be more functional than Diarmuid or Siobhán – they were born as orcs and are used to it.

The marriage painting

I drew this on the Saturday evening and finished it on the Monday. The two characters here are Aidan and Gráinne O’Rourke (neé Ní Bhriain). Aidan is part of a family of smugglers based around Letterfrack; Gráinne married into the family.

In the earliest days of the series, Aidan was a very cynical half-orc who was transplanted from an old Halo-esque series that I abandoned years ago. Over the various iterations, I decided that Diarmuid was misanthropic and jaded enough for both of them, and began to rework Aidan into a more pleasant, well-adjusted character. So far, he’s the main viewpoint character of Infiltration, and a major supporting character in two others (First Date and Receiver).

Gráinne has had different names, quirks and special interests throughout various iterations, but what has remained constant throughout is that she’s autistic. She’s the viewpoint character of First Date (basically, where she meets Aidan), and she’s also a major supporting character in Infiltration and Receiver.

Gráinne (left) and Aidan (right). Gráinne is stimming by rubbing her hand against her scarf; it relaxes her. The painting behind them is a slightly earlier sketch of Aidan that I haven’t completed.

Site Reconnaisance

This is the 16th story in the Connacht Disaster Zone series, and is inspired by the Site Recon mission from XCOM: Enemy Within. For those who haven’t played that mission (or even that game), the general concept there was that XCOM (an international black ops unit dedicated to resisting an alien invasion) was tasked with investigating a fishing village that had gone mysteriously quiet. In this case, the people involved are some regular soldiers and a pair of Inquisitors – the enforcers of the dwarven church – inspecting an outpost and making an unnerving discovery…

Three miles southwest of Louisburgh, an oppressive silence fell over the countryside that basked in the hazy sunshine. The overgrown fields behind bush-riddled drystone walls were unnaturally still, without any trace of the native species that would have filled them. Something had caused them to hunker down.

This was not readily apparent to the party of four dwarves and two humans that held onto various parts of the Ford that roared along the rough road that led to an outpost looking over the sea at Carrowniskey Beach. With the exception of the driver, who possessed the faint smirk of somebody enjoying the sensation of being just in control, they were more concerned with the fact that it shook around on the uneven dirt and stone surface like a possessed beast or an unusually demented púca.

The other human was in the back, clutching onto the mount of a French-built Bauchat automatic rifle and trying to ignore the way his bandoleer of ammo bounced up and down on his chest as he scanned the terrain as best as he could. At five foot ten, he and the driver towered above the rest. Both shared the same red hair, blue eyes and round chins underneath their caubeens, but the gunner had a grimmer look on his face.

Beside the gunner, two dwarves held onto the back of the front seat. One was clad in the tan-coloured monk’s habit of the Inquisitors with his hood drawn up against the sun, like another in the front seat. The other, sat directly behind the outward passengers’ seat, was dressed in the same drab grey tunic and trousers as the humans and the dwarf in front of him, with his own caubeen tucked into his belt while in transit. The one deviation in clothing was the peaked cap perched upon the head of the dwarf in front of him.

A hundred yards from the coils of barbed wire around their destination, the driver finally took his foot off the accelerator, causing the roar of the engine to simmer down to a low rumble. His left hand reached under the steering wheel, settled on a button mounted on the column, and squeezed it. A loud, shrill ooga erupted from underneath the vehicle, briefly eclipsing the engine’s low rumble. He squeezed it a second time, and then a third as they finally rolled to a halt.

“I think they know we’re here, Delaney,” the dwarf in the far-right seat commented dryly. He frowned and lifted an IKEA Model 3 carbine from where it had rested between his body and the door. “If there’s anyone there. Odd.”

“What is odd about it, Lieutenant?” the Inquisitor in the back demanded. The Lieutenant suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, wondering once again what he’d done to displease the Church enough to end up with being tasked with escorting a pair of their enforcers to one of the outposts. It could be anything – being a minute late to Mass more than twice in a month, having a family name similar to the Fomorians, or even just a random whim – but showing them disrespect was a sure-fire to end up on their watchlists. Even if they were a wet-behind-the-ears eejit.

“The gate is open, yet if there were anyone present, we would have seen them by now,” the second one replied hoarsely. He turned back to the Lieutenant. “I believe we should investigate further.”

“Delaney, bring us in – slowly,” the officer acknowledged, leaning forward against the dashboard as Delaney gently pushed the accelerator. Behind them, his twin knelt and gripped the Bauchat more carefully, eyes roving over the half-open gate and the pillboxes on either side of it while the other two glanced to the rear.

The car juddered to a halt in front of the central blockhouse. About thirty yards in front of them, the sea lapped against the stony beach on the other side of the barbed wire; had the blockhouse not been in the way, they would have been able to see Clare Island to the northwest, still in the League’s hands like the Homelands to the south should have been. Another pillbox faced directly south along the beach.

“O’Toole, check those guard posts,” the Lieutenant instructed as he swung open his door and clambered out, followed by the senior Inquisitor. Behind them, O’Toole dropped off the tailgate and hefted his own carbine as he moved towards the nearest pillbox. The other Inquisitor belatedly climbed off, started to follow him, and hesitantly looked towards his superior for orders.

O’Toole frowned as he peered into the pillbox, not seeing anything out of the ordinary. A folding chair in a corner next to some boxes, a footrest with extra steps in it for dwarves up against the wall that held the firing ports, and a potted light-plant pulsing in the other corner. What wasn’t ordinary was that there was nobody inside.

He turned and moved over to the other one, finding it looked exactly the same, aside from one of the crates being open. The crate lid bore Connacht Trading’s symbol slap-bang in the centre and the word “Ammunition” stencilled into the wood and was, to his surprise, completely empty save for a bread roll that looked more a stone with a swarm of flies buzzing over it, an open flask and a pouch. A quick sniff and glance into the flask revealed it to be long-since cold tea.

Briefly sniffing the pouch caused him to grin, revealing tea-stained teeth. He opened it, revealing a dozen tea-leaf cigarettes – something that would ordinarily set him back a good five pence. Since there was nobody around to complain, he closed the pouch and pocketed it. Today was a lucky day, he felt it in his bones.

Or at least until he exited the pillbox, and a shiver went down his spine. Glancing around, he saw that the Delaney twins had turned the Ford around to face the entrance. Niall had removed the Bauchat from its mount and flattened himself against the side with the muzzle covering the beach, apparently deciding that the fixed stability of the vehicle wasn’t worth the limited field of fire. Even worse, Tommo’s smirk had vanished as he slid the gate further open, to be replaced with the haunted, wary look of somebody who had just felt something indescribably wrong.

“You feel that, Danny?”

O’Toole nodded slightly. He didn’t need to ask for details; even with the motor car’s engine providing some noise to fill the air, it was unnervingly quiet. Even so, he didn’t want the Inquisitors to think he was chickenhearted, so he kept his face still as he made his way over to the Lieutenant and the Inquisitors. No salutes – regulations prevented that out in the field, and the senior Inquisitor had thought it necessary to remind his junior brethren of that before they had left – but with a hazy chain of command here, he wasn’t completely sure who to address.

“Nothin’ in the pillboxes, sir,” he reported, deciding that as the Lieutenant had ordered him to check the buildings, he was the one to address, “but one of them left a sandwich and a open flask of tea. No sign of any fights or anything like tha’.”

The Lieutenant and the senior Inquisitor traded a glance.

There was no immediate sign of anything out of the ordinary as they passed through the half-open reinforced doors into the entrance hallway. Almost directly ahead of them lay the inner guard post, the metal shutter slid aside to allow full visibility. A light-plant pulsed to one side of the shutter to mark the stairs, with another in the back of the guard post casting a shadow on the ladder up to the main floor.

When they got up to the first floor, O’Toole glanced to his right into the armoury, and stopped dead in his tracks at the disarray. The ammo and weapon cabinets were open, in spite of the signs warning that they should remain locked at all times, and the boxes of ammo had been strewn about on the floor in front of them. He hesitantly entered, and stopped as his foot landed with a dull clunk on some shell casings. Quite a lot of them, in fact.

“What happened here?” the junior Inquisitor asked as he peered inside, not directing the question towards anyone. “Was this – could this have been Fomorians?” O’Toole could have sworn there was a note of fear in his voice. It was a slight relief.

“Unlikely,” the senior one replied, shaking his head. “They tend not to be so subtle; there would have been signs of combat outside.” He looked at the Lieutenant and O’Toole. “I believe we should contact Louisburgh, if the wireless set is operational. Trooper, guard this location and make sure nothing comes after us.”

As soon as they had climbed to the next floor, O’Toole flattened himself against the armoury door and focussed on keeping his breath perfectly steady. His eyes roved over the relatively well-lit armoury – no shadows where a Fomorian could hide there, thank you very much – and back out into the corridor. Seeing nothing unusual, he glanced back along the armoury. Still nothing.

He began to feel the dry itch in the back of his throat that said he needed a cigarette. If only there wasn’t a no-smoking sign in the armoury…and a pair of Inquisitors just above him. Well, at least the sign made sense here, unlike those ones in the mess hall back in Louisburgh or Westport. A-

An indistinct sound from across the storage room across the hallway snapped him out of his reverie. Tensing and lifting the carbine, he crept over to the door and raised his off hand to ease it open. It was only as he pushed it open that he had a sudden vision of his body being framed in the light from the stairwell, in full view of the four-legged insects that had popped out of a dead whale and turned an entire village into-

He shook his head and chuckled nervously. Where had that thought come from? Next thing he’d be swapping the IKEA for a gun that shot beams of light and his regimental insignia for a shoulder patch that bore the words “Vigilo Confido”. What did that even mean?

“Focus, Danny,” he muttered under his breath. “It’s probably just a rat.”

As soon as he peered inside, he froze. The shelving had been overturned and thrown aside, the one remaining light-plant box had been knocked away from the wall to plunge the rest of the room into darkness, and there was a smell that he just couldn’t describe. He hesitated, wondering if he should call for the rest of them, or just wait until they were finished.

Something clicked in the far corner. Leaning further inside, he just caught a glimpse of something moving in the corner of his eye. He instinctively looked to his right, saw nothing in the shadows, and turned his head forward again to use his peripheral vision.

His screams echoed up the stairs as something lunged towards him.