Tag Archives: Warhammer 40000

Book Review: Space Marine Battles: Rynn’s World, by Steve Parker

Ah Games Workshop, they love their Space Marines, their Adeptus Astartes! So it’s no surprise really that most of their publishing imprint’s (Black Library) books are about them, or feature them prominently. Space Marine Battles is a series of novels focussing on notable battles fought by the various chapters of Adeptus Astartes out in the grim darkness of the far future, and the heroes of those chapters. The series was launched in 2010 with the book Rynn’s World, which features the Crimson Fists defending their home world from a massive Ork Waaaagh (translation for non-40k fans: A massive crusade of Orks, with millions of the warmongering aliens rampaging across worlds).

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Book Review: Fifteen Hours, by Mitchell Scanlon

It’s been a bit quiet in the Cantina of late for one reason and another, but I am assured that the dry spell is at an end, and to kick things off here’s my review of Mitchel Scanlon’s addition to the 41st millennium, Fifteen Hours.

Fifteen Hours

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New Space Hulk video game on it’s way!

Ahh Space Hulk – in my experience one of the most frustrating board games ever made (if you’re playing as the Space Marines) – your enemy has unlimited numbers of flesh-eating Giger-esque monsters to hurl at you from concealed hatches and darkened corridors, and you have a 2-in-6 chance of actually hitting them with your weapon, and even then only of you saved enough action points to actually fire your your weapon that turn, and assuming you have any ammo left…

Space Hulk box art

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Top Ten Video Game Guns!

DAKKADAKKADAKKA!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Here it is, after much debate on Facebook, the Cantina Crowd list of the Top Ten guns in video games! The rules (if you could call them such, since I made ’em up as I went along) were as follows;

  • No melee weapons (obviously)
  • No superweapons (ie. Hammer of Dawn, Orbital Ion Cannon, etc), but vehicle/ship mounted weapons DO count.
  • Has to be from a game that saw general release (No alpha/beta test games that never made it onto the market!)

Had quite a few interesting suggestions, some of which I’d never even heard of and had to go away and research before I could decide if they deserve a place in this list (my eternal thanks to Brad for introducing me to the Cerebral Bore!). I’ve avoided including any real world guns in this list, since they’re all pretty tame by comparison, and saying things like “My favourite gun is the M16-4A with an ACOG sight and under-slung shotgun” makes you sound a bit of a douche. So without further ado, here’s the list, in ascending order.

10) IM-822 Handheld Ore Cutter Line Gun (Dead Space) – The Line Gun is the Plasma Cutters souped-up big brother. When upgraded this gun will comfortably fill the width of one of the games innumerable corridors, slicing off limbs and leaving twitching dismembered corpses in its wake. The power and size of this weapons blast allows it to take down multiple enemies (the mutated Necromorphs) in a single shot, even passing through enemies to continue the messy slicing with those behind. And its alternative fire is (rather bizarrely) the Line Rack Mine – a timed explosive that can reduce a pack of Necromorphs to nothing more than gristle and goo. Although its firing rate is far from dazzling, and its reload time feels like an age when there’s a pack of face-eating minsters closing on you, all is forgiven when that blazing line of death-dealing light blasts through your enemies. This is real fun with power tools!

9) Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (Portal 1+2) – The only entry on this list that’s not explicitly an offensive weapon, the Portal Gun as it’s more commonly known is apparently a quantum tunnelling device which has the ability to create two linked portals on most flat surfaces. Regardless of the distance between them, anything that passes through one portal will emerge from the other instantaneously. Basically make one portal in your kitchen, and the other in your local pub and voila! No more cab rides/long walks to and from (although I can imagine the drunks would be an issue)! This is possibly the coolest non-lethal gun ever, it’s so brilliantly simple, and has so many ingenious and devious ways it can be used – as is seen when you play through the Portal game’s, and have to get creative. Or just angry. I favour angry.

8) Enforcer (Unreal Tournament) – Ah, the humble enforcer pistol. Your basic starting armament in all the award-winning Unreal Tournament series (except for the awful UT 2003, but the less said about that the better), the Enforcer is a solid, reliable weapon that is instant hit (you fire, it hits the target, no annoying transition time like you get with missiles and the like), and has the same range as the in-game sniper rifle, and a similar accuracy too! This means that in the hands of a skilled player the Enforcer is a compact dose of lethality. And guess what? You can pick up a second one, giving you double the killing power and awesomeness. Just don’t use the alternate fire, because it’s bloody useless.

7) BFG 9000 (Doom) – The grandfather of all super weapons, the mother of video game overkill, and a really big gun. Getting your hands on this bad boy in the original Doom was like Christmas come early. Suddenly those CyberDemons didn’t seem so scary – probably because you couldn’t see them behind the massive blast of the BFG firing. A huge angry sphere of green and white plasma that vaporised all in its path with a huge blast radius, followed by a massive spread of invisible lasers that did  even more damage, and usually finished off whatever had survived the initial blast (which often wasn’t a lot). Ok, it used a lot of ammo (40 plasma rounds per shot) and if you were too close to the target it would wreak horrendous damage upon you too, but hey, what do you expect? You want to rip those demons a new one, there’s gonna be some risks. Just stand back, grin maniacally, and reduce the minions of Hell to smouldering ashes.

6) Yamato Cannon (Starcraft 1+2) – The only entry in this list that’s not from an FPS, nor carried by a human-sized character. The Yamato Cannon is mounted on a Terran Battlecruiser (both Behemoth and Minotaur classes mount them, for you SC nerds out there), and uses an intense magnetic field to focus a nuclear explosion into a cohesive particle beam. It basically takes nuke and turns it into a massive laser blast, so none of that awesome destructive power is wasted; it’s all concentrated on that one single target. Only the most powerful units in the game can take a hit from this weapon without being instantly destroyed, and when you consider that with careful husbanding of resources (or a reliable ally in multiplayer) you can build, say, twelve battlecruisers all armed with these bad boys, you can see why it makes it onto this list.

5) Cerebral Bore (Turok 2: Seeds of Evil) – This is a particularly nasty weapon which until we started taking suggestions for this list, I was completely unaware of (probably as a result of never playing any of the Turok games). Once fired, this weapons projectile whizzes off, tracking the targets brainwaves. It then latches onto their skull, drills deep into their brain – spraying bits of brain and skull out behind it – before exploding, messily decapitating the unfortunate target. That is a spectacularly unpleasant way to kill someone, and yet is a very cool weapon, the very sight of which would scare of would-be attackers in the games multiplayer.

I’ve included a picture of the Cerebral Bore in action, since the pictures of the actual gun itself are all rubbish!

4) Redeemer (Unreal Tournament) – The Redeemer is a man-portable Thermo-Nuclear missile launcher. Yep, that’s right, the good folks over at Epic Games (or Epic Megagames as they were called when Unreal Tournament first hit the streets) decided that standard rockets, assault rifles, and plasma powered weapons weren’t enough for their game, and that you needed more firepower. And the Redeemer certainly delivers. Although it’s technically classified as a superweapon, I’ve allowed it into the list because it’s carried by a single person – that is, the launcher, targeting system, and payload are all carried by one person like some kind of bazooka on steroids. The primary fire shots the massive missile in a straight line until it hits something or someone, whereupon it explodes with a massive blast radius that atomises every target in it – including you if you’re stupid/mad enough to be that close. The alternate fire is even better, because it allows you to actually fly the missile yourself, piloting it through doorways and corridors, and find where your prey is hiding before you detonate it, reducing them to greasy smears on the walls. Although whilst piloting the missile you’re completely defenceless, so it’s best launched from somewhere relatively safe. And far away.

3) Astartes MK Vb: Godwyn Pattern Bolt Gun (Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine) – Being a massive Warhammer 40k fan, I could rant on about the holy Bolter for hours (and have done before, much to the annoyance of all non-40k fans around me), but here I shall focus on the one used in the THQ video game Space Marine. The Bolter fires a self-propelled .75 calibre bolt, composed of a diamantine tip, depleted deuterium core and mass-reactive detonator. What this basically means is that the Bolter fires little rockets that explode once they’ve penetrated their target, blowing them up from the inside. It also has a low recoil (thanks to the self-propelled nature of its ammo) and an excellent range meaning that it’s effective at pretty much any range, be it a mad charge into the enemies midst, or picking off targets at long range. Plus it’s the first in-game representation of a twenty-five year old weapon that actually got it right!

2) Needler (Halo 1/2/3/Reach) – There are few things more terrifying than rounding a corner in Halo multiplayer and coming face to face with an enemy wielding a Needler (or two Needlers in Halo 2). In a matter of seconds, this esoteric Covenant weapon can fill your brave Spartan with somewhere between nineteen and thirty (depending on which game you’re playing) glittering shards of pink death. And as if that wasn’t enough, moments after they’ve embedded themselves, the shards explode. And don’t try running away, even with that ever-reliable zig-zagging pattern, because the needles will track you like a cloud of angry pink Bees. So in summary; a rapid-fire weapon that shoots homing, exploding crystalline needles. Nice. Or nasty, depending on who’s being shot with it…

So here we are, the top slot in the list! But what clenched this most auspicious of awards? Well, before we get there, I’d just like to take a moment to say there were quite a few names I expected to see in the suggestions that were conspicuous by their absence – weapons such as Unreal Tournament’s Flak Cannon, and the Ghostbuster’s Proton Pack – but I suppose it comes down to who saw the question, and had the time/inclination to actually answer! Anyway, here you go, the number one slot…

1) Mk2 Lancer Assault Rifle (Gears of War 1/2/3) – A low recoil, medium range assault rifle with a firing rate of 800 rounds per minute, and an integrated carbide-tipped chainsaw bayonet. It’s a big gun with plenty of dakka and bloody chainsaw on the end! So what you can’t shoot to bits at range, you can dismember in a loud and messy fashion when it gets close. The chainsaw bayonet is so good that often in multiplayer, all it takes is a rev of its distinctive engine noise to scare away enemies closing in on you. However, thanks to its low recoil, the Lancer can be used to keep enemies at bay if fountains of gore aren’t your thing. Although it’s best range is short-medium, it’s still reasonably effective at long range, allowing decent players to dominate any battlefield with their standard issue weapon. Plus, did I mention the chainsaw?

And I swear, I didn’t give this the top slot simply because I have one of the replica’s that I’m repainting at the moment!

So there you have it. Filled with rage/despair that your favourite didn’t make it in? Or maybe you want to congratulate me on a damn good call? Whatever, feel free to shout/applaud me in the comments. Or if you really want to see a completely different view on this list, check out Mr. Fish’s list on his blog Fishy’s View!


Top Ten Starships – The Results!

Wow, this list was a lot harder to compile than I thought it would be! I figured it’d be easy to narrow down a top ten, especially with the help of the poll. But then the more time I spent thinking of/about ships, the more names I kept adding to the list of potential candidates, and the harder it got to select just ten. Sci-fi is rife with starships, and most of them are pretty damned cool when you stop and think about them. But alas, there are only ten slots available in the highly prestigious list (ahem), so most had to be cut. The Sulaco, the elite Archangel, the Normandy, the Pillar of Autumn, the noble Galactica….

Now votes are in, the polls are closed, and I’ve spent far too much time in the last week reading about fictional starships. This list is made up of the ones you voted for, and the ones that I wanted to put in there, because I’m the one writing the article. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments…

 

10) Righteous Indignation

Source: Bucky O’hare and the Toad Wars

Of all the things I was expecting to crop up on this list, the Righteous Indignation somehow slipped under my radar (but came 2nd in the poll). For those not familiar with this early nineties cartoon (and/or the seventies comic), it follows the war in the Aniverse (a parallel dimension inhabited by anthropomorphised animals) between the mammals of S.P.A.C.E (Sentient Protoplasm Against Colonial Encroachment) fighting against the brainwashed Toad Empire led by the evil supercomputer KOMPLEX. It’s cheesy 90’s cartoon goodness at its best, with lasers, whiter than white heroes, the obligatory earth child, androids, and starships.

Which leads nicely to the Righteous Indignation. First off, it has by far the coolest name of any ship on this list. It’s described as being a frigate, but it seems too small to me to fit that designation. Anyway, it’s red (and “Red wunz go fasta”), its whole prow seems to be a window with a laser cannon poking through it, manned by a four-armed duck that talks like a pirate. There’s also precious little info on it out on the web, so this’ll have to do!

9) T.A.R.D.I.S

Source: Dr Who

To my mind, this shouldn’t even be on this list – including the TARDIS on here seems to me like including Doc Brown’s DeLorean, or H G Wells’ Time Machine – but apparently you lot disagree with me, voting the iconic blue Police box into joint 3rd place.

What can I say about the Dr’s chosen method of transport that you don’t already know? The name stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, and it’s bigger on the inside than outside due to some kind of Time Lord technological trickery. The particular TARDIS used by the Doctor is an old, obsolete TT Type 40 Mark 3, with a broken Chameleon Circuit (the device that allows it to blend into its surroundings by assuming an appropriate appearance) which is stuck in the shape of a 1960’s London Police telephone box, and an unreliable short-range guidance system which often results in the Doctor not quite arriving where he intended to. It’s also powered (at least partially) by a miniature black hole within the central column of its control room, which is pretty cool.

The TARDIS has become such an icon in British culture that even those who aren’t fans of the series instantly recognise that blue Police box – in fact it’s now recognised more as the TARDIS than as an old Police call box, and has become a registered trade mark of the BBC.

Another rather cool feature of this ‘starship’ is it’s whole larger inside than out thing, which is apparently caused due to the fact that it’s dimensionally transcendental; that basically means that its exterior and interior exist in different dimensions, which is how comes the Doctor and his companions can live in a box that appears to be only a little larger than your average phone box!

 

8) Starbug

Source: Red Dwarf

Another surprise on this list, voted in by you lot – I suppose this shows the sort of age-group/mentality we’re dealing with here! For those of you unfamiliar with Red Dwarf, it follows the survivors of a nuclear leak aboard a mining ship in Humanities future; Dave Lister, a lowly technician/cleaner who’s in stasis for thousands of years when the leak occurs, the Cat, who is evolved from Lister’s pet cat he smuggled aboard, Arnold Rimmer, a holographic projection of Lister’s immediate superior, Kryten, an android they find abandoned on a dead space station, and the ships computer, Holly. After all the crew are killed, this plucky band venture out of the mining ship Red Dwarf in Starbug, one of the ships shuttles. They then manage to lose Red Dwarf, and spend several series chasing across the galaxy after the elusive red ship.

Although significantly smaller than it’s mothership, Starbug still has all the amenities the crew need – quarters, common room, med-bay, etc. It’s not a fighting ship so it spends most of the series (at least until some rogue Simulants arm it with a laser cannon) flying around trying not to get blown up by the numerous hostile beings out there in the cosmos.

In series 7 Starbug takes a hint from the TARDIS, and actually becomes bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, due to some kind of complex thing with time paradoxes resulting from a fight with their future selves, or something, which makes engineering, the cargo bay, and the maintenance ducts over 212% larger!

This is another little ship that just seems to soldier on in spite of the hostile world it finds itself in, and people seem to have really fallen in love with the funny little green vessel. Even if it does look like a Dr. Pepper bottle….

7) Moya

Source: Farscape

The biomechanical ship Moya came in at joint 3rd place in the poll, putting her up there with the TARDIS and Starbug, which surprised me because I really didn’t expect the ship from a relatively unknown Australian sci-fi series to be voted for at all!

Moya is a Leviathan, a living biomechanical transport ship usually found under the control of the Peacekeepers, one of the big baddies in the Farscape universe. Being transport vessels and a peaceful race, Moya is un-armed and has only one real defence mechanism – the ability to Starburst. Starburst is a type of FTL travel which is unmatched in its ability to evade pursuit, capable of hurtling the Leviathan and its passengers across distances that take other vessels a long time to travel, since the Starburst capability is biological and has so far never been accomplished by any other means.

Unfortunately the Starburst manoeuvre – being as it is, intended as a flight from danger – is often an imprecise science, with neither the ship nor her crew knowing where they’ll end up.

Despite being a starship, Moya is very much one of the leading characters in Farscape, along with her symbiotically joined pilot, Pilot and the crew/passengers that travel aboard her. She’s been shot, captured, given birth to a gunship (which she later saw killed), evaded giant space worms, travelled in time, and shown Peackeeper warships her shiny Starbursting behind more times than I can count, and has a more noble spirit than any other vessel on this list (probably because she’s the only one that’s really alive, but that’s a minor detail!)

6) ND-001 Nadesico

Source: Martian Successor Nadesico

I will openly admit that this entry is influenced by the fact that I only recently finished watching this series, so the awesomeness of the Nadesico is still fresh in my mind.

So, a quick summary for those of you unaware of the story in the rather tongue-in-cheek series Martian Successor Nadesico: Mankind has colonised the Moon and Mars, and everything’s hunky dorey. Then the evil Jovian lizards attack from Jupiter with a massive space fleet and swarms of robotic fighters that obliterate the earth fleet sent to stop them in orbit around Mars. Mars falls to the Jovians, and only one young man survives, mysteriously teleported to Earth…

Nergal Heavy Industries secretly builds the high mobility battleship Nadesico, and despite the Earth forces’ attempts to capture her, launches a mission to retake Mars.

The Nadesico is cutting edge; a compliment of four/five Aestevalis mecha, the amazing Gravity Blast Cannon that vaporises scores of any ships per blast, and the nigh-on impregnable distortion field make it the most powerful ship in the Earths arsenal. Although crewed by top civilian experts in their field, they all have slight personality issues. Which basically means they spend more time worrying about what’s going on in their own heads than the enemy! The ship’s fast, powerful, has an awesome computer (calling herself Omoikane), and looks damned cool. That’s a win in my book!

5) Vengeful Spirit

Source: Warhammer 40,000, Horus Heresy novels

Flagship of the rebellious Primarch Horus himself in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Vengeful Spirit is probably the largest ship on the list (not counting the TARDIS, because it cheats!), being somewhere around 15 kilometres long, and around 2.5 kilometres ‘tall’, flagship of the Luna Wolves (later called the Sons of Horus), and the command ship of the 63rd Expedition fleet of humanity’s Great Crusade.

Not only is this vessel the place where Horus first becomes corrupted by the dark Gods of Chaos, but it’s from this ship that he finally lays siege to the Emperor on Terra, slays his Primarch brother Sanguinius, and battles the Emperor himself in a one-on-one battle to decide the fate of the galaxy. It starts out as a massive Legiones Astartes Battle Barge capable of bombarding planets into submission and landing thousands of Space Marines, but by the time of the battle for Terra, it has been corrupted into something much darker, with daemons and monstrosities stalking its halls, it’s hull twisted and defiled, like an enormous beast in the void. With massive cannons. Lots of massive cannons. Just through sheer size alone it deserves a place on this list. The fact that it could pulverise most of the other ships on here into space dust is just an added bonus!

4) Incom T-65 X-Wing Starfighter

Source: Star Wars (original trilogy)

This ship came surprisingly low in the poll, and was only suggested a couple of times on my original Facebook status, but I think this is because my geeky followers/friends just wanted to show off the obscure ships they knew!

The X-Wing starfighter was the mainstay of the Rebel Alliance’s fighter fleet. Faster and more advanced than the Y-Wings left over from the Clone Wars, and slower but tougher and more powerful than the nimble A-Wings, the X-wing is probably the ultimate starfighter in the Star Wars universe. It’s small frame packs in full life support for the pilot (something Imperial TIE pilots can only dream of), Proton torpedoes/concussion missiles, four wing mounted laser cannons, a class 1.0 Hyperdrive engine (making it capable of FTL travel), full shields, and an astromech droid for making hyperspace jump calculation, and fixing those pesky mid-battle burn-outs!

It was one of these ships (piloted by Luke Sjywalker) that fired the proton torpedo that blew up the first Death Star. It was another of these ships – this time piloted by the only other pilot to face two Death Stars and survive, Wedge Antilles – that helped the Millenium Falcon blow up the reactor core of the second Death Star.

Since its first appearance in A New Hope, way back in 1977, the X-wing has been a fan favourite, inspiring a line of novels, several computer games, and numerous toy iterations (several of which I have at home, adorning various flat surfaces when I’m not zooming them ‘round the house, re-enacting the Battle of Endor). They’re become and synonymous with Star Wars as Lightsabers, and embody the struggle of the Rebellion against the Empire; the handful of often battle-scarred X-Wings striving against the waves of shiny, dark Imperial TIE fighters.

If I had my way, an X-wing would be how I travelled to work each day!

3) Macross SDF-1

Source: Robotech/Macross

Ahhh, the SDF-1 (I’ll mostly be focusing on the Robotech aspects of it, since I only finished watching it a few months ago!), a repaired and refurbished battleship that crash-lands on Macross Island, halting global conflict as mankind realises they’re not alone in the universe. The resources of the world are turned to repairing the crashed starship, unlocking it’s technological secrets, and building a fleet capable of defending Earth from hostile alien forces. And when the warlike Zentraedi show up on the launch day of the SDF-1, humanity is glad they thought ahead…

Ok, ignoring the massive Super-Dimension-energy Cannon that vaporises whole battlegroups of enemy vessels, and ignoring the Space Fold system which allows the ship to traverse vast intergalactic distances in the blink of an eye (albeit not very well), and ignoring the fact that it houses scores of Veritech fighters (which rival the X-Wing for coolness), this ship is still amazing; It transforms into a giant robot! That’s right, it transforms from a massive intergalactic battleship into a massive intergalactic fighting robot. I mean how much cooler can you get? It’s like Transformers but without the shoddy animation(?!) or Michael “I’ll shit on your childhood” Bay!

Plus its captain – the venerable Captain Henry Gloval – fills his bridge with attractive young female officers (see Bridge Bunnies). Even Kirk never managed that!

 

2) Serenity

Source: Firefly TV series/Serenity film

The number two slot on this list is taken by a ship that has no FTL (faster than light) drive, no weapons, no special abilities (apart from the Crazy Ivan, but that doesn’t really count!), and is generally looked down upon by everyone around it. But it’s certainly loved, as it took the number one slot in our poll and was the most mentioned ship in my original Facebook status. A more humble ship you’ll struggle to find, so what is it about this littler Firefly class transport that’s so appealing?

I think it’s so popular because it embodies two very important things to the crew, and to those watching; Home and freedom. It’s home for those travelling aboard her, even those that never planned to stay such as Shepherd Book. It’s their little space in the galaxy, and that makes it special to them. And it’s the freedom to go where they want, when they want, avoiding the overbearing interference of the Alliance. And it strikes a chord with us because the crew aren’t super-intelligent, or highly trained graduates of some futuristic academy. They’re real people, flying around space in their own little ship, and if you’re reading this, then the odds are that’s a pretty appealing notion to you.

 

1) Millenium Falcon

Source: Star Wars (original trilogy)

So what ship trumped the time-travelling TARDIS, Daemon-possessed Vengeful Spirit, and the transforming SDF-1? What else could it be than the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy?

Everyone knows what the Millenium Falcon is (if you don’t then I feel for you. But get off this blog and go watch the original Star Wars trilogy. NOW!), Han Solo’s trusty YT-1300 bulk light freighter. From her lop-sided cockpit, to her illegal military grade quad cannons, the Falcon is almost universally loved. It was this ship (piloted by owner Han Solo) that saved Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader during the attack on the first Death Star, and the same ship again that helped blow up the second Death Star. It’s a freighter that handles like a fighter, with enough hidden firepower to fight its way out of most situations it can’t run from – it made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, and that’s fast.

But more than all that, the ship is home to Han Solo and Chewbacca, as they run blockades and smuggle goods across the galaxy. The ship’s been extensively modified throughout its life by its numerous previous owners – including Lando Calrissian, the gambler Han won the ship from – to better suit the often less-than-legal activities it was usually engaged in. I mean what good freighter doesn’t have hidden compartments for smuggling?

I don’t think I need write any more about the Falcon, do I? We all know her, and we all love her, so she quite rightly sits at the top of this most auspicious of lists!

 

 

Do you know what’s really interesting about this list? Fully half of the vessels on it aren’t cutting-edge paradigms of intergalactic travel, or super-powerful ships of destruction, nor even warships. They’re transports, shuttles, and freighters. Ok, the list has its fair share of lasers and battlecruisers, but the poll favourite (Serenity), and my favourite (Millenium Falcon) occupying the top two slots are someone’s personal transport. Something tells me that if you could, most of you would be wearing tight trousers and a blaster, and setting off to the stars in your own piece of gosa rustbucket!

 


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