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Description of pixies

  • As heavy as a standard golf ball.
  • As big as official ping pong ball.
  • Humanoid but have a pair of wings for flight.
  • Prefer to live in forested areas.
  • Eats fruits and insects.
  • Average IQ of 100.
  • Very social.
  • Invisible to us, we only see them on photos.
  • Flight ceiling height of 100m AMSL.
  • Same sleep/wake cycle as human.
  • Loathe violence but will self-sacrifice to protect other.
  • Capable of lifting 0.2kg of weight up to 2m above ground for 30mins.
  • Embrace nature but begin to develop tool lately due to our influence.
  • Immune to poison and every pathogens.

So deforestation is pushing the pixies on the brink of extinction, trees are being cut down for its material and also to lay new roads or build big houses. Obviously the wildlife cannot stop our advances into their territory let alone the fragile pixies, I am wondering if the pixies study our technology and up to classical physics then what kind of deadly weapons can they use to actually score a decisive victory against humanity?

Their main goal is to protect their habitat for as long as possible no need to wipe us out! Right now big corporations have been denying their existence and they would relocate the animals to another reserved area under the protection of the local government so they say.

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    $\begingroup$ Poison darts, maybe? $\endgroup$ – Shadur Mar 4 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ If I was pixie, I would avoid head to head fight and utilize the invisibility to assassinate key person in the corporations if a fight is inevitable. $\endgroup$ – Leisen Chang Mar 4 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ Capable of lifting 0.2kg of weight up to 2m above ground for 30mins. Shouldn't this depend on their starting point, and shouldn't they be able to lift higher/heavier for a shorter amount of time? Say one pixie manages to get a 0.5 kg pebble to a branch 1.5m above ground, then another lifts it to another branch and do on till they get to the top of the tree. Is that doable? $\endgroup$ – nzaman Mar 4 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ Elfshot would be traditional. No external damage, but gives the victim a stroke. $\endgroup$ – NomadMaker Mar 4 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ Before it comes to warfare, the pixies could find friends among Greenpeace, the United Nations, and anyone else who wants to preserve the environment. Teach them to use social media, etc. Its when that doesn't work that they start with the poisons and vandalism. $\endgroup$ – Shawn V. Wilson Mar 4 at 21:47

10 Answers 10

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Don't bother killing humans, kill their stuff!

When you kill a human they go crazy. Humans with weapons and blue flashing lights appear with big scary dogs that can smell pixies and chomp them down, and when human forensics dudes figure out the killer is small and invisible they go around with cameras and slaughter pixies. It just doesn't work out when pixies fight directly with humans, or snipe at humans.

The pixies don't want to kill humans really - they just want the forest to stay there:

  • Pixies can sneak into idle vehicles unnoticed, get into the engine bay, and cut / drill tiny holes in important looking parts causing leaks. They can put sand into engine oil, water into brake lines, etc. The engines of those logging vehicles, or even just the trucks carrying logs, are quite expensive to replace... and replace.... and replace...
  • Pixies can sneak into server rooms unnoticed, and they like targeting companies that profit from deforestation. They bring a trusty peice of insulated wire with them, which they sneak into servers through ventilation grates / ducts and randomly connect shiny lines until they release their magic smoke.
  • Pixies can watch you use your computer and figure out how it works, note your password, and then late at night log in and "fix it". This can range from tweaking a CAD diagram so that the forest is spared, to deleting everything you've ever done, to sending offensive emails in your name and BCCing HR.

But you want a pixie ranged attack anyway!

Poison darts. Or even just liquid poison just thrown or dropped. An invisible pixie can drop a small amount of liquid into a drink or onto a meal.

A slingshot with a tiny sphere of poison in gel form should allow a pixie to accurately plop it in a human's uncovered drink from a safe hiding place.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer; since we're so reliant on technology, attacking that aspect of our lives should really get people to back off and leave the forests alone. Or else go on a worldwide pixy hunt.....it depends how crazy the people in power are. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 4 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think Botulism toxin safely falls under the category of "poison". $\endgroup$ – Turksarama Mar 4 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ I think in an all-out war pixies would still loose. We’d just go around wearing camera goggles and build automated laser turrets. $\endgroup$ – Michael Mar 5 at 6:54
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    $\begingroup$ Cutting brake lines is also a well known trick that can be lethal. $\endgroup$ – SomeoneSomewhereSupportsMonica Mar 5 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ I particularly like this answer because it leans into the trope that fey creatures like pixies are mischievous, meddling with your stuff and causing "bad luck", while rarely being directly violent. $\endgroup$ – BBeast Mar 7 at 4:21
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As big as official ping pong ball.

Invisible to us, we only see them on photos.

They don't need to use ranged weapons at all, which is good because air behaves differently at small scales (viscous effects dominate over inertia effects) and the sort of projectile weapon sized for your pixies would have negligible range and probably not enough power to penetrate human skin.

Instead, the obvious thing to do is to take a leaf out of the book of every other small animal that occasionally needs to deal with much more dangerous creatures: poison.

There's a wide variety of strong toxins to choose from, so I won't bother enumerating any here. Obviously they'd have to use something that was either very safe to handle or that thery were naturally immune to, because if they were vulnerable to the same stuff as humans then they'd inevitably kill themselves by accident with the tiniest little trace, given the body mass differences.

Injection is the best route. Stingers harvested from large bees or wasps would be ideal if it were practical to harvest them (are pixies invisible to insects, too?). Stabbing them in by hand would be the most reliable thing to do, but it risks being swatted even if invisible. Instead, gluing tiny little poison-delivering stingers all over human environments seems like the safest approach.

Poison isn't the only trick available, which is good as many parts of the world lack convenient strong poisons, or perhaps the only poisons available are too difficult to obtain or too dangerous for pixies. Instead, there's always biological warfare. It should be straightforward for pixies to harvest sources of suitable illness... contaminated water or animal urine and faeces, and sprinkle them surreptitiously into the food and drink of the humans.

In my neck of the woods there's ample scope for spreading giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis and leptospirosis just to ensure a general background level of discomfort and misery for everyone working in the woods. Harvesting better stuff like shigella lets you up your game. Hantavirus is a good one if you're in the right part of the world. High end stuff might involve the likes of rat lungworm cysts which could be farmed once first obtained.

Biological warfare is much more effective and safer when done on other species. Take full advantage of that fact!

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    $\begingroup$ Strong props for botulism toxin, samonella, and anything else that might come from improperly prepared or stored food - a lumber camp probably isn't known for it's high food safety standards, or won't be once you've finished. Destroying angel fungus would be lethal, but might just look like someone ate some bad mushrooms - and has a long lead time, particularly when mixed in with the other food poisons You could even throw in some hallucinogenic ones - someone operating a chainsaw or a bulldozer under the influence would be quite effective $\endgroup$ – lupe Mar 5 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ I'd be skeptical that a mass strategy of injecting poison into humans would work as an area denial weapon to preserve pixie habitat. Mosquitos have been killing 700,000 humans per year and that has neither removed humans from mosquito habitat nor prevented it's slow destruction. Humans are quite persistent. $\endgroup$ – Colin Pickard Mar 5 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @ColinPickard all that says is that mosquitos are insufficient. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Mar 5 at 16:27
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Invisible to us, we only see them on photos.

Very good. So they can fly right up to our eyes with a sharp blade and... well, that flash was the last thing you ever saw. An advantage is that one blinded man needs another one to take care of him and it is much scarier than seeing your comrades falling dead with a dart sticking out of their neck.

However, that was not my answer. Since forest workers would soon start wearing helmets, and once everyone has a mobile phone with a camera, it is game over for the pixies.

My answer is:

Very social.

... and small. Brazilian rainforest can easily support many millions of them, even without agriculture (insectoculture?). And they are very social, they are not plagued by internal conflicts, but cooperate. In short, they form a major state-level actor. Their intelligence service is really formidable, with the gift of invisibility. Their agents soon learn human languages (mostly by watching) and the spies are all over strategic places, big corporations, politicians etc. What is a surgical precision assassination from time to time compared with their salvation... And if the government start some unpleasant moves into their territory, they do their best to provoke a war with the neighbouring country as a distraction. Or an armed insurrection lasting some decades. Or even support a local narcobaron (nothing helps better like careful assassination of noisy police officers) to keep the forest intact, while allowing him to plant his favourite, harmless herbs.

(parallels with existing places on Earth are purely fictional)

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  • $\begingroup$ How on Earth did "s" (in "surgical") turn into "chir"? That is one weird auto-correct... $\endgroup$ – No Name Mar 5 at 5:50
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    $\begingroup$ @NoName: The German word for "surgeon" is "Chirurg", it's similar in several european languages. Not hard for a non-native speaker of English to type "chirurgical" instead of "surgical" coming from that background. $\endgroup$ – Guntram Blohm Mar 5 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ Chirurgical has been a valid English word for centuries. I realize there is a strong modern ethos to use only a small set of words put in one particular way suggested by their dominant company. When software can't understand people, you need simply make all the people speak like the software! It's a utopian plan to allow companies to lay off the people who would have read your emails, with the added benefit of blunting public interest in a history tainted with dubious ideals, as suggested by Orwell himself. Even so, it is a loss for art. $\endgroup$ – Mike Serfas Mar 5 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @GuntramBlohm I did not know that. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – No Name Mar 5 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ The "chir" spelling is etymologically related to the "surg" spelling, and is actually the original Greek, Latin and Germanic spelling. English actually gained the "surg" spelling through French. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Mar 5 at 19:43
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The Internet! Invisible, flying golf balls that can type. Who can out-hack that?

But who needs to hack anything? That takes too much study. They find out somebody works one of the bulldozers, and start searching for child porn from his computer. Or they post a couple of one-line death threats to Twitter in his name. Bye-bye. NEXT!!!

Best part is, the prosecutors will help them. Once they've sentenced 23 lumberjacks to prison in the country's largest amateur child porn ring, do you think they're going to let somebody investigate a story about how pixies did it? Nope - any evidence that turns up is going straight in the trash!

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not a fan of planted evidence in this context. It feels somehow unfair for a punishment to be this divorced from the actual offense. $\endgroup$ – Brian Mar 5 at 16:10
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Since you specifically asked for deadly ranged weapons, I will say terror attacks using human machines. Terrorism is a horrific but quite effective tactic if you are out-numbered and out-gunned. Even Lt Cmdr Data agrees.

In the case of the pixies, their lack of weaponry isn't an issue of technology - they are smart enough and freaking invisible, so they could easily steal human technological secrets if they wanted to. But they don't, they want to live in the forest and be left alone, far away from the human concrete, steel and fire.

So why not kill two birds with one stone? Hijack or otherwise disable the ground machines and flying machines while they're moving, and use them against the humans. No more machine, no more human. Other humans scared, other humans leave the forest alone.

What's a more effective ranged weapon than an out-of-control garbage truck? Hell, they could even work out how to remote-control drone missiles if they really wanted.

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Framing challenge:

Why ranged weapons? Or weapons at all? Just poison the humans. And not obvious, quick-killing poisons, but the slow ones. Or those that just get diagnosed as an obvious normal illness (heart attack etc)

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Miniaturized slingshots

Can use stray marbles and small stones to hit at humans and machinery causing more failures, and infighting amongst workforces, as it seemed the friendly Joe was intentionally throwing stones. If used at a short distance, the slings can cause non serious injuries, enough to frighten but not enough to kill. The escalation can be targetting vulnurable body parts in later stage (eyes, ears, groin).

Hidden Crossbows and hallucinogens

Pixies use their invisibility to carry and hide small crossbows in key locations, and trigger them to target humans at random, creating a gureilla attack, which creates mass hysteria and fear. Can use biological hallucinogens to create psychological blocks amongst workforce in tandem with these attacks.

Brute force harmful biological agents

Like mosquitoes with Malaria, or Zika into the forests. This uses biological activity to limit human activity. Similarly, plague outbursts are still common and pixies could unleash some lower mammals to infect humans. Or they could find an altogether novel bat or other mammalian virus that humans are unexposed to by using fresh urine and stool droppings, and cause a pandemic amongst humans. The pixie immunity helps them brute force such an approach easily.

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  • $\begingroup$ Poisonous plants in the bog rolls $\endgroup$ – nzaman Mar 4 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ the problem is they are so small they can't use those weapons, a slingshot or crossbow scaled down to that size can't overcome air resistance. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 6 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @John OP's post required to hurt not kill, and given the advantage of invisibility, the pixies would be able to fire these weapons from very close range (and lesser impact of air resistance). $\endgroup$ – Anshul Goyal Mar 6 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ they would be hard pressed to even pierce the skin a point blank range. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 7 at 4:51
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Your basic problem is body mass.

If your pixies only mass as much as a golf ball and are limited to muscle powered weaponry then they can't launch weapons like javelins, sling stones and arrows etc with much more force behind them than their own body weight.

The first limiting factor is muscle power. For example the aprox maximum draw weight of a typical long bow is about 70 Kilos, for crossbows its less than 100 kilos. (Yes, there are bigger crossbows but they require gearing mechanisms and anchoring the bow to a platform or the ground while reloading.) So in both of the above cases the arrow only leaves the weapon with energy more or less equivalent to mass of the user and its the same problem with any other muscle powered missile.

The second limiting factor is aerodynamic drag, there is a whole series of equations governing the movement of objects through a fluid (for this purpose air is one). Basically your tiny arrows will slow down more quickly/have less range and less penetration than normal sized arrows.

Solutions.

  1. Don't bother with ranged weapons. Your pixies are invisible to the naked eye. Use this advantage and go with spears and lances. Use velocity and body weight to drive poisoned 'darts' into areas of exposed skin. (Or as others have suggested tip them with diseases or toxic fungal spores etc). I'd suggest making the tips detachable so there is no external evidence of a weapon left behind.

  2. Trained attack animals. Your Pixies eat and therefore probably herd/farm insects. Use poisonous wildlife as weapons of war - use pheromones etc to control and lead swarms of insects in attacks.(Go get'em boy!s)

  3. Sabotage and fire! - the Pixies invisibility is their greatest asset. Use it to start fires in man made structures and equipment. Slice cabling, slip into any kitchens or dining areas etc & and poison food or drink. Or maybe into dorms if there are any.

  4. Intelligence & Physiological warfare Infiltrate meetings and listen to what the humans are planning on a daily basis and use this information to plan attacks that will maximize the damage and the cost of staying. Plus this alerts you to any planned countermeasures. Also consider leaving cryptic messages promising death and destruction to those who desecrate the sacred forests and let the Greenpeace take the wrap!

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Poison immune; small; invisible?

I'd go with poison darts, delivered from a blow gun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowgun

Lightweight ammunition, means you can carry a reasonable number of 'reloads' - although your range on the blowgun might not be very much, that doesn't matter if they can't see you.

And you've a range of options for the toxin, in terms of speed of action - slower acting options mean you can 'kill off' an entire battalion before they even realise they're under attack.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium#Biology_and_toxicity

Polonium is famous for recently, being fairly difficult to detect and trace.

A nasty painful toxin can work as a really effective area denial/terror weapon.

E.g. the 'stinging tree': https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/18/australias-stinging-trees-if-the-snakes-and-spiders-dont-get-you-the-plants-might

Being a nettle-like this tree already has the 'needles' it would need, without even having to 'make' ammunition.

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  • $\begingroup$ the problem is size, they are so small the blow dart will only have a effective range of a few mm. the dart does not have enough mass, nor the pixie enough lung capacity to overcome air resistance over longer range. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 6 at 17:34
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In one word: viruses. These little demons spread through the humans like covid today. So all the pixies would need to do is create a new virus, maybe a modified covid-19. Then, the pixies watch the virus spread until there's an epidemic and logging is temporarily halted because of the virus and all the cut down trees are replaced with new trees. The pixies would have no fear of the virus backfiring, because they are immune to all pathogens. Oh, and when a cure is found for the virus, the pixies could use hacked computers to post fake photos of "the guardian of the jungle and forests" or something like that on the computer websites. And to make it look like the guardian is real, they'll hijack idle logging vehicles, stop the logging company headquarters by cutting the wires and replacing the wires with fakes, and stuff like that.

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