Wrench Turner

Alistair,

I’m the cryosleep maintenance engineer on a spaceship launched for far reaches of space. I’m woken up every ten years to fix things up before going back into cryosleep. I woke up this time though and found out that the thrusters broke. We haven’t moved in ten years, and I haven’t got the parts to fix it. The planetary settlement program dissolved in some budget cutbacks a while ago, so I can’t even contact anyone.

Advice?

Wrench Turner in Orbit


Wrench Turner,

My answer to this question depends entirely on which of  the settlement ships you’re on. 

Are you on the ship with the scientists? The engineers? The tradesmen? These people might be able to problem solve this with you – maybe even fabricating problem-solving parts and tools with which to fix your precious thrusters.

Or are you on the settlement ship with the insurance salesmen, public relations executives and hairdressers?

You’re on that ship, aren’t you. In that case. . . it’s probably for the best.

Alistair

Web of Mistruths

Alistair,

An alien crash-landed in my backyard a couple months ago. I tucked him away into a closet and have been feeding him and nursing him back to health. I’ve also been hiding this from my entire family, as I’m worried the government will experiment on him. It’s starting to take a toll. My wife thinks that I’m having an affair, and I can’t explain since I’ve overcommitted. How do I undo this disaster?

Web of Mistruths in Lutsk


Web of Mistruths,

My sympathy here lies with the alien. It must really suck to (1) crash your spaceship, (2) get locked up in a closet indefinitely, (3) rely on a paranoid egotist for sustenance and care and (4) have to listen to this guy and his wife arguing incoherently all the time.

If we’re being honest, your wife is probably well aware of the alien. What are the chances that she simply hasn’t looked in that particular closet recently? That she hasn’t heard weird noises, smelled weird smells or seen weird things? You have an alien in the house. Of course she knows. Chances are, she only accused you of having an affair because she hoped that, faced with the comparatively weighty accusation of infidelity, you would readily admit to the fairly innocent act of rehabilitating an alien in secret.

On the plus side, regardless of your antics, the relationship has probably had a dose of reality and honesty that she’ll have to cope with.

As for the alien, if he’s mobile, let him go. That’s an adult being you’ve got sequestered away.

Alistair

On Silent

Alistair,

My father, and his father, and his father before him for a dozen generations has had the duty of conducting a ceremony every year on the day of the solstice. By maintaining our purity and performing the ritual, we hold an ancient evil at bay.

Except I forgot to set my alarm and missed it. The world hasn’t dissolved or anything, and so far I haven’t noticed any huge problems. Do I need to do anything to rectify things?

On Silent, Not Vibrate in Luxor


On Silent,

I assume that the ceremony was intended to ensure the changing of seasons, keeping the world in a habitable holding pattern.

If the seasons carry on changing regardless, then it is safe to say that your family ceremonies never had any effect and that it was your patriarchal line that was in a holding pattern.

Either way, there’s nothing that you can do at this point but wait. If the seasons go all sideways, then when the next solstice rolls around you can conduct the ceremony per usual and rectify the situation then. There’s no real point in trying to conduct a belated ceremony now though. That’s just not how calendar triggers work.

Alistair

Hairless

Alistair,

What is it that makes humans special? I mean, all fuzzy feelings and attachment aside, what?

Hairless Chicken in Lubec


Hairless,

This depends, primarily, on what you define as ‘Special.’ Further, there is the implied importance that what makes you special is in some way continuous. That is, your ancestors and descendants would see each other and say “Ah yes, like me,” before presumably attempting to murder the other as a heretic and invader. It’s a strange trait of – well, I’d say humans, but honestly also aliens, spirits, apes, and most badgers to try to explain how they are, in some way, crucial and irreplaceable to a largely uncaring universe.

There isn’t really something. Thought, dreams, syntax, self-reflection, tool use; all random traits that cannot make you more or less human. In a word, the thing that makes humans special is humanity. And also, for some reason, dumplings. Kreplach, xiao long bao, ravioli; it’s a human cultural universal to fill bread with something and chow down.

Alistair

One Million Ducks

Alistair,

Why exactly are the kinds of things going around granting wishes so obsessed with interpreting them in the worst possible light? It’s just so inconvenient. Who benefits?

One Million Ducks in Wiscasset


1M Ducks,

I know the behaviour to which you are referring, but most beings that can grant wishes don’t actually do this. You, for example, have probably not done this and yet if you started scattering dried corn about you right now, you would be satisfying the wishes of (I assume) roughly a million lesser beings.

Those who are really into the high-visibility wish-granting game (leprechauns, captive djinn, certain wells, the elder fae, etc.) are usually doing it with an ulterior motive. In most cases, that motive is art. When you are a thing out of time, (meaningfully distinct from immortal) you start prioritizing your actions and use of time differently. There’s an entire camp of creatures who have gravitated toward an outlandish appreciation for irony. Simple as that. There’s whole museums dedicated to the great dickery of the past, and many a young spirit has admired the flourishes of particularly cruel fairy godmothers.

Who benefits? They do. Because in your vanity you asked for a million followers and that’s exactly what you’ve been given. They just did it in a way that would win them street cred within the semi-abstracted community.

Alistair

Let’s Not

Alistair,

I met the in-laws for the first time last weekend. Understand that I realize my wife didn’t have a totally normal upbringing, but we’re working through it. Having met her parents and. . . brother(?) though, a lot of little details got explained. You see, they are actually Deep Ones from the time-before-time. Or that’s what they kept saying. I tried to find out if that was in the area, but it was just “time-before-time”. Anyway, they’ve got some very backwards ideas, in my opinion. I consider myself a Progressive Centrist , whereas they believe that the world should be returned to void and chaos. I know I shouldn’t have brought up politics, but it was too late. I left early. What’s the best way to make peace?

Let’s Not Mention Sports in Kennebunkport


Let’s Not,

I would love to know how this “working through it” process of which you speak is going. The Deep Ones have made a whole bunch of attempts at establishing cosmic anarchy (a system of being in which matter holds no governance over existence) but have always been unsuccessful because of course they have. They’re not well.

It is very likely that your relationship with your wife has been orchestrated by her family in the hopes of getting an actual Living One to initiate their unravelling sequence. If they ask you to play some weird board game with them that involves reciting long passages of disconnected, booming syllables, don’t. It won’t destroy the universe because they’re a long way from creating a coherent, efficient formula for that. It will almost definitely have an unhealthy effect on you personally though. Death, for example.

Alistair

Not a Miracle Worker

Alistair,

I’m a doctor at a relatively prestigious hospital. A couple weeks ago a man came in complaining of a pain in his stomach. It persisted long enough that I finally ordered an MRI. Long story short, his entire thoracic cavity has been replaced with a single enormous worm. Since then, people have been coming in more and more frequently – two, then three, then five – all showing the same symptoms. I’m a little out of my depth here, especially considering that that worm seems to be latched into the base of their occipital lobe, specifically. Any advice?

A Doctor, Not A Miracle Worker in Lyon


Not a Miracle Worker,

I do, as a matter of fact, have advice.

But it’s not for you. Because of the Hippocratic Oath. Pass the phone to someone else, preferably Lyon’s version of a redneck.

Alright. So what you’re going to want to use in this situation is a large gauge shell packed for maximum spread. Buckshot might seem like the move, but that’s a mistake. The Children of the Drake have a “saddle” segment (much like an earthworm) and that’s the part that you need to wreck. The reason you want spread is that at any given moment it’s anybody’s guess where in the host’s chest the saddle is located. It may take a few rounds, but if one of the pellets hits home, you’ll know pretty much instantly because the host will collapse. 

Just so we’re clear, what I’m advocating here is not murder. Instead, this falls into that weird grey/green area that deals with ”killing” nonsentient zombies and any other undead persons/objects. Regardless of how necessary it might be, it’s uncomfortable because you’re killing a seemingly animate human. Rest assured that the host has been meaningfully dead for weeks… any quasi-human behaviour/functionality/brain activity is only being permitted by the Child of the Drake for the purpose of maintaining a healthy host body until its form is fully developed and it can emerge, fly away on leathery wings and lay eggs of its own.

Alistair

Monochromat

Alistair,

There’s a popular new fad going around my school. It’s these little devices that flash different colors up in sequence. I’m colorblind, so I can’t actually appreciate the colors. It’s getting unsettling. Outside of class, everyone just stands in the hall staring at them. They don’t play videos, they don’t play games, they don’t have information. It’s just colors. Now it’s started to get out of the school, and everywhere I go, it’s just people staring at their hands, watching the colors. I’m getting concerned that maybe there’s something sinister going on here. Any advice on how to combat a possible mind-dominating corporation?

Monochromat in Sherbrooke


Monochromat,

One of the first things I would do is start pretending to use the device. When the “corporation” inevitably starts sending orders through the devices to its vast standing army of living automatons, one of the earliest orders will involve identifying dissenters. 

With the simple disguise of carrying a colour-flashing device you can set to work trying to figure out where these devices are coming from and who is setting the patterns. The evil mastermind won’t see you coming, partly because he will underestimate you but mostly because Geoff is notoriously bad about leaving his back door unlocked.

Alistair

Time Crunch

Alistair,

So I kinda thought that I was the hero of my story: slay an evil dragon or two, make friends with a good dragon, inherit a kingdom, lead them into a glorious and new age. I’m outside the evil dragon’s cave, though, and… there’s a lot of bodies and cooked pieces. And it’s occurred to me that I might actually be one of the guys who dies before he ever makes it that far. Any way to crosscheck?

Time Crunch in Kingston-Upon-Hull


Time Crunch,

If you have to ask, you’re screwed.

The reality is, it takes much more than ambition to fulfill your shopping list of feats of greatness. If you don’t have a very specific ancestry, you’re not about to inherit a kingdom; if you don’t have a very specific edge, you’re not about to defeat a dragon of any description. In both cases, if you have what you need, you usually already know about it.

So if you must proceed, make sure that you launch your attack from a spot where the true hero who follows you will be convenienced by the step that your hollowed-out armour provides. 

Parting thought… Are you sure this is an evil dragon? Consider reordering your agenda to incorporate befriending a dragon ally earlier in the game. It might be exactly the edge you require for defeating the other dragons further down the road.

Alistair

Who Profits

Alistair,

I was sent a video of a crow staring into a camera. After about fifteen seconds, the skin falls off and the skeleton flies away. Then there are words that say “Send this to someone else or die in three days.” I’m not sure what the ethical solution is, but the skeleton bird has been stalking me in real life for a day and a half and I’m kinda not interested in betting on a chain letter.

Who Profits in Barquisimeto


Who Profits,

I know who that is. She’s one of those mostly harmless persons at this point in history, and it’s very unlikely that she would actually kill you if you don’t share the video. That said, she’d probably appreciate it if you did. She’s not becoming nearly as popular on social media as she would like, which is a hard blow for a Slavic Ancient One to accept. 

If you are a gambler, try the following: don’t just forward the video to one person. Share it to thousands. Make it blow up. If you can capture footage of Baba Yaga’s featherless form stalking you and attach it as proof that she actually follows up, it will probably help the viral content accelerate. She will probably reward you handsomely for your proactive assistance. It won’t occur to her until too late that she won’t be able to do any kind of follow-up on the thousands of people now sharing her video (she is NOT omnipresent… barely present at all, if we’re being brutally honest about it).

Alistair