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Better Red Than Dead is an episode of Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars.


Patreon exclusive.


WorkJuice Players

Guest Stars


Sparks Nevada, just having received a distress signal from the Space Saloon, enters the saloon and is greeted by the Saloon Doors. The Barkeep is nowhere to be found, but Croach, Pemily, and The Saloon Doors are all acting strangely. Sparks asks Croach to leave with him, as The Red Plains Rider is ready to enact the martian ritual she asked for help with in La Venganza de Los Bandititos.

Both Pemily and Croach nearly begin to act like themselves, when there is a zapping noise before they continue to act as if they're very drunk. Croach then hugs Sparks tightly, despite Sparks' objections.

Another man inside the saloon introduces himself as Lairn Gar'ner, and says he is running for mayor of Mars. Lairn says he's running on a platform of blocking time travelers, as well as blocking travelers from other planets. He believes anyone not born on Mars, regardless of their race, should be removed from Mars. Because he's running on a "Keep Mars Martian" platform as a human, he's extremely unpopular.

Lairn explains how he had purchased a language shifter, which allows people who don't speak the same language to hear a common language. Lairn had his cousin, a mad scientist, modify the shifter, so now it's a mechanism for mass mind control, and people will vote how they "ought" to. He then called for a special mayoral election, an idea which everyone in town loved, as they were under mind control.

Lairn attempts to control Sparks' mind with the language shifter, but it doesn't work. He declares he'll have to kill Sparks, but only after he goes outside for a last minute stump speech as he doesn't want to bloody his clothing. He orders Croach to not stop hugging Sparks, then heads outside.

Pemily breaks free of mind control then explains that the brain zapper isn't permanent and doesn't work as well on people from off world. Pemily and Sparks plan to have Sparks distract Lairn when he returns, so Pemily can steal the language shifter. However, when Lairn enters the Saloon, Croach and The Saloon Doors give the plan away, and Lairn re-zaps Pemily.

Sparks changes tactics and gives Lairn the advice to outlaw onus once he becomes mayor. Strongly invoking onus wakes Croach up from his mind control. Croach lets Sparks go, Sparks grabs the language shifter and releases The Saloon Doors and Pemily from Lairn's control.

Lairn explains that he still has one chance for election -- he's not running against anyone, as he mind-controlled the Barkeep, forced the Barkeep to transfer The Force Galactic to himself and made the Barkeep "undo" himself. Because the Force Galactic is from space and not locally sourced, Lairn is loathe to use its powers. He considers using it and not telling anyone, which he realizes would be a scandal, and Sparks and company tell him he's worse than even a bad politician. Lairn laments that just once he wants to feel happy or victorious, so Sparks zaps him with the language shifter. He then orders Lairn to bring back the Barkeep as well as return The Force Galactic, and Lairn blissfully complies.

Lairn considers trying to run for mayor again, but Sparks, prompted by Pemily, reminds him that he's going to jail, where it will be hard to govern, as well as against the law.


  • The episode summary on the podcast says Lairn is a "future senator" but the episode itself only mentions mayor.
  • Lairn calls himself a "Marser", a term which had before only been used to refer to martians in Inside Out In Outer Space and A Comet's Tale.



This episode was recorded at Largo on May 3rd, 2014 and released on July 14, 2014.