Answer: 🛸
Ryan Judge

We're presented with a list of cryptic clues. Solutions, with explanations later:

To make sense of the answers, we then go to the flavor text. The word "crafty" indicates that these answers are related to Minecraft, and based on the word "music" and a quick Google, we find out that all these answers are the names of music discs.

Then, looking at the phrase "strongly signaling" and perusing a page like this tells us that we have to look at the intensity of the redstone signal that each disc gives off.

The extraction comes from adding each disc's intensity to the bracketed number after its clue, and converting those numbers to their corresponding letters:

We get the phrase UFOEMOJI, so the answer is the actual UFO emoji: 🛸.

Author's Notes

Feel free to consider this Mixed Messages 2.0: the much less cursed version.

Somehow, some way, adding the bracketed numbers to the first letter of each answer created a palindrome. This was absolutely unintentional and ridiculously unlikely to happen. I'm so sorry if that observation led you astray.

As promised, clue explanations:

  • CAT: The definition in this clue is "pet." The phrase "at first" indicates that we take the first letters of what follows. The word "for" is the split between wordplay and definition, so we take the first letters of "Claire asked Tom," which gives us CAT.

  • WAIT: The definition is "stand by." The word "even" indicates that we take the even letters of the phrase that follows, which gives us oWnAfIaT = WAIT.

  • BLOCKS: The definition is "hunks." A political coalition is a bloc, and the postal code for Kansas is KS. The word "and" indicates that we add these two together, thus BLOC + KS = BLOCKS.

  • FAR: The definition is "remote." The phrase "found in" indicates that there is a hidden word in what follows; taking the last two letters of Alfa and the first letter of Romeo gives us FAR.

  • THIRTEEN: The definition is "it's unlucky." The phrase "without sulfur" indicates that we have to remove the letter S from something, as S is the chemical symbol for sulfur. The comma in the phrase "T-shirt, seen" is a subtle way of saying "and," so we remove an S from both "T-shirt" and "seen," which gives us THIRTEEN.

  • CHIRP: The definition is "tweet." The word "right" indicates that we take the letter R, and since Chip "has" something, we put the letter R into "Chip" to make CHIRP.

  • MALL: The definition is "shopping center." The phrase "lost tail" indicates that we remove the last letter from "llama," giving us "llam." Then, the word "flipped" indicates that we flip "llam," which gives us MALL.

  • WARD: The definition is "department." The word "extremely" indicates that we take the extremes, or the first and last letters, of "wild." Then, "augmented reality" gives us the initials AR, which we then put "in" the middle of W and D, giving us WARD.