Saturday, 26 November 2016

Saga Book 6 (#31-36) NSFW

NSFW WARNING:  Penises! Boobies!  Vulvas! Pubes! Hot homo humpin'!

"I've found that cultures often clash for the same reasons that people do.  It's not because we're so different from each other... but because we're all so godammned alike" - Hazel

Saga is getting so epic and full of characters it's now pretty impossible to sum up in one introduction.  So you'll have to read some of the previous entries, go on, shoo.  But I'll give you the premise and bare bones so far.  This is the story of a family trying to make its way in a hostile universe.  The reason the universe is so hostile to them is because the parents are from either side of an intergalatic war.  Alana is from Landfall and sports a pair of wings, her husband Marko is from Wreath, Landfall's moon, and has horns.  When Marko was taken prisoner, Alana fell in love with him, they fled and she got pregnant and the story began with the birth of their daughter Hazel who immediately became a target of each side who didn't want the union of two of the warring sides made public.  Hazel narrates the story from some unspecified time in the future, right now she's just turned four.  Wreath and Landfall have been at war for a long time and this war has dragged many, many planets into the fighting. The most notable being Landfall's major allies the TV headed Robot people.  At the end of the previous volume, the two year old Hazel was kidnapped, and the ending showed her in a Landfall prison school for the captured Wreathian P.O.W's kids, now a couple of years older after a time skip.  And thus we continue the story as we find out what happened next as Marko and Alana keep looking for their missing daughter and what is happening to Hazel and the rest of the colourful cast in the meantime.  Brian K Vaughn writes, Fiona Staples draws.

We begin with the kids and their various drawings. Hazel has drawn a "giant foot man with very bad gas". Which amuses the rest of the class.  Noreen, their insect-like teacher says she wanted Hazel to draw something that made her feel sad, Hazel that does make her sad much to the continued merriment of the other kids.
Hazel and Noreen.
Their lesson over they leave, but Noreen asks Hazel to stay.  She tells Hazel if she ever wants to talk about "things" she can trust her.   Also she brought her a book called "Leave Me Be" this sends Hazel into the first tears she's shed in two years.  We flashback to when she and her grandmother were kidnapped by the terrorists who were in the process of selling Hazel to the Wreathians, Marko and Alana weren't onboard they were fighting the terrorists outside it.

The ship they jump into space with is crippled though as the power unit was taken away in the previous book.  But they jump right into the path of the Robot Kingdom ship that was hunting Prince Robot IV who was off tracking down his son.  There is an altercation on the terrorist ship, one of them (a Wreathian who becomes like an auntie figure to Hazel in jail) tells her to look away as Hazel's enraged grandmother, Klara, crushes the head of the other terrorist aboard.  Then they make up a story to tell the Robots that they were female slave labour.

This convinced the Robots who handed them over to Landfall detainee centre.  They are led to get checked up medically but a pig shaped alien doctor stops them, saying they can't be stripped just like that and treated badly since they have been "comfort women".  The Landfall guard leaves him to check them over and he turns into Izabel, the spirit girl bound to Hazel who can only come out at night. 
Izabel gets them out of a jam.
They haven't seen her in a while because the planet they were on before had no nighttime.  There is a joyful reunion and this way, Hazel's wings and dual nature won't be discovered. Lexis the terrorist appreciates Hazel getting them out of immediate trouble, but Hazel is a "timebomb".  How long can they keep her secret?

Then we're back in the present, and Noreen gives Hazel a cake to celebrate her fourth birthday. She tells Hazel if she doesn't end up part of a prisoner exchange she is welcome back into her programme as an "explorer".  This excites Hazel who rushes off to tell Klara.
Petrichor, a new character.
She runs into the showers and is greeted by an adult Wreathian with breasts and a penis and testicles.  She speaks the non-Wreathian language brokenly.  When Hazel points out her "outtie" she says "in here I be girl" and points to her head (which is why I'm using the female pronouns for her).  She says everyone here sees her as a "freak of nature".  Hazel says because the Landfallian's put her in with the women maybe they're not so bad afterall.

Next time she meets Noreen, Hazel asks what she thinks of the "Wings" (slang for folk from Landfall). Noreen says they pay on time.  Hazel says she doesn't remember much about her parents, but she knows how her dad smells and that her mum is a bad singer and gave her that book when she was younger.  She takes her top off, and undoes the bandages round her chest revealing a beautiful pair of large wings, also from her mother.  Noreen faints dead away, banging her head on the table as she falls. "Oh fart" says Hazel.
Hazel's secret.
Then we check in with Marko and Alana.  They have broken into Variegate the financial hub of the coalition's vast prison empire.

Hazel: "Despite the persistent sense of loss, united by a shared obssession my parents once again brought about the very best in each other."

They hadn't even kissed since they were reunited, they would never again perform the act that created Hazel until they had her safely back, or so they vowd.

They get further inside and make their way to the records room.  Marko uses his magic to create a key to get inside.  Alana makes him promise not to teach Hazel magic, but Marko hopes Klara has already taught her the basics.  They root through the paper records until Alana finds a sheet that tells of a wrecked ship of the type they are looking for and three females found aboard.  Including a senior citizen and her grandaughter.
Marko and Alana find out Hazel is alive.
The sheet says after processing they were taken to a detention centre on Landfall.  Marko thinks that's not right, they wouldn't allow his people on their soil.  But Alana said she had heard of the camps, hidden amongst the population to deter Wreath from all out attack. Then three security guards which seem to be made of fire appear.

They try to arrest Alana and Marko but Alana tells them they have fired a missile at the planet and look out of the window.   This panics the security guards as Alana says she is "destroying the red tape that holds this unjust world together!"  But actually it's their wooden rocket home coming down for them.  As the security guards scarper, Alana breaks the window and jumps out using her wings to hover.

She can't hold Marko for long because unlike Hazel, her wings have been clipped as is tradition for female Landfallians, but he jumps out and grabs her and the two of them land together in the rocketship.  They tumble in each other's arms, then kiss passionately.  Then have a bout of sex because really this was wonderful news. As Hazel tells us, "until they found that scroll, my parents had each been secretly convinced I was long dead."
Vows are made to be broken.
They now realise they are going to need more help, and we cut to ex-Prince Robot IV teaching his son "Squire" how to hunt.  Ghüs, a little mole like alien riding Hazel's pet Friendo, comes to tell him Alana and Marko are coming.  Robot IV wants to run the hell away from them saying "their pathetic aside in my life came to its natural conclusion long ago".  Squire appears holding a dead bird and asks what they should wish for.

We then check in with Upsher and Doff, the homosexual couple who are a newsteam.  Upsher the writer, Doff the photographer.  Upsher is elated because he's received news that The Brand (who belonged to an organisation of all-purpose enforcers) died sometime ago.  And this means they can revisit the story she warned them away from which was the existence of Hazel.

They start travelling to check out leads, the first one is that Alana worked on "the Circuit" which is a theatrical broadcasting entertainment system.  Doff says the Circuit people won't talk, but Upsher says he has a "secret weapon" in the form of Ginny. She left a classified ad that said:

Advert: "To my brave warrior from Wreath, this is your favourite dance instructor from Gardinia, hoping for good news about your beautiful daughter?  You have my number.  Please call..."

So it looks like Private First Class Alana and her lover spent some time on this planet.  Doff seems unsure about carrying on with this story.  Maybe they are just two people who like to screw and others think they are gross and immoral.
Upsher and Doff are back on the story.
Upsher realises he's talking about the homophobia on their own planet.  But he says their relationship wouldn't send shockwaves through the rest of the universe.  Upsher says their subjects made their bed, "it's our job to go through the dirty sheets."  And Doff gives in.

They arrive at Ginny's house, who now has a husband.  She talks to them privately about Marko who came to collect her grandfather's sword and shield.  She wants an alias because they were good friends but she doesn't want her husband getting the wrong idea.  She tells them she saw a Robot with a colour screen in the vicinity of the Circuit and Upsher asks if she thinks a member of the Robot royal family abducted a child?

Upsher asks when was the last time he heard from Marko.  He phoned a year ago from a planet called Outcome.  He said he was on Hazel's trail and hopefully would be able to return her grandfather's gear soon.   The two journalists leave to travel to Outcome and their new lead.
Sexy pillow talk (!)
Later they are having sex in a motel and discussing what they know. They decide to fly out to Outcome because beyond it is cold ice so Doff can use the heat signature detection on his camera to look for a trail.  Upsher says Doff is "horny for the story" now.  Doff says:

Doff: "It's not just the story Up. There's a little kid out there who might need us."

Upsher frowns and asks if his biological clock is ticking?  Doff says no, but if there are going to be words about her, he wants them from someone like Upsher who cares.

Later they are flying in the ice belt as Doff scans it with his camera.  He picks up footprints on a nearby planet and they land to go check it out.  They find the crashed skull ship, and flowers called "violents" which only grow where there is bloodshed.  They follow the tracks and are suddenly faced with bounty hunter-cum-enforcer, The Will.  He was brother of The Brand and has her companion, the dog Sweet Boy now.  He elongates his sword and spears Doff through the shoulder.
The Will and Sweet Boy.
Sweet Boy jumps on Upsher. The Will says he knows his sister gave them a second chance.  Doff says "you mercenary assholes got no right to intefere with legit reporting".  The Will says he doesn't give a damn about their muck raking, then he pauses and talks to thin air. Then he demands to know where Prince Robot IV is, which they have no idea about.  So he decides to keep them around, "you fuckers work for me now."

Back with Hazel, she is still standing, wings out over the unconcious body of Noreen when the hermaphrodite woman who is called Petrichor finds them.  She tells Hazel to quickly cover up, while Hazel explains what happened. Petrichor helps her and says her father must have been a Wing who forced himself on her Wreathian mother.  Hazel wants to correct her but had learned thus far when it's a good idea, "to shut your fucking mouth".

On the planet where Robot IV, Squire and Ghüs are, Marko and Alana have arrived. Robot IV welcomes them by aiming an arrow at them and telling them to get lost.  They ignore him and warmly greet Ghüs, Squire and Friendo.  Robot IV gives up and asks them what they want.  They tell him they want to break Hazel out of a Landfall prison.
Robt IV, Squire, Ghus and Friendo
He says he can't help because he has no standing in the coalition since being disowned by his father. Ghüs and Squire guilt trip him into considering agreeing though and when Marko and Alana subtly threaten to tell the Robot King where he is, he has no choice left but to assisst them.

On Landfall, with the help of Izabel's ability to disguise herself, Hazel has got inside the infirmary where Noreen is.  Noreen is concious and amazed that Hazel is also soul-bound to an astral shifter.  "Child how?  How the hell did you come to be?" she asks. So Hazel tells her graphically that her parents had sex and she was the result and Klara really is her grandmother.  She'd be mad if she knew Hazel had told Noreen about her wings.

Noreen asks why did she tell her? Hazel says it's because she doesn't talk to her like she's a baby.  Noreen tells her in essence she's what she's been employed here to do, educate a Wreathian child who doesn't hate Landfall.  But if the Landfallians found out she existed... but she won't tell anyone she promises Hazel.

Hazel then brings her a book by D.Ozwald Heist, the one that her parents bonded over.  Klara loves it as well.  She says it has a few too many grown-up parts for her.  Noreen thanks her for her kindness.  Hazel asks if she thinks he's the best writer ever.  Noreen says writers shouldn't be ranked like racehorses:

Noreen: "And no offence to the rest of your family... but anyone who thinks one book has all the answers, hasn't read enough books."

Hazel reminisces that of all the things her teacher taught her, "that's the one that stuck."
The Will hallucinates The Stalk.
We rejoin The Will, he is talking to an imaginary companion, his dead lover The Stalk.  The two journoes walk fearfully in front of him realising he isn't quite sane.  He's chewing a drug called "Heroine" that lets you see your first love.  A drug with a vicious comedown.

Suddenly a huge snake bursts through the ice and attacks The Will.  Upsher and Doff pray it kills him, but he grabs it's open mouth and breaks its jaw.  Upsher then decides to rebel saying he'd "rather die a member of the free press than live another minute as this fat fuck's employee".  But before The Will can kill him, Doff blurts out that he knows a way to find out where ex-Prince Robot IV lives.  So The Will keeps them alive for now.

In the Landfall jail, Klara and Auntie Lexie are reading stories to the other inmates and they are all having a laugh.  Petrichor thinks Klara is "friend up us with all the no-horns" and this could be bad news. Then Noreen appears and calls Hazel away saying she is very worried about her, Hazel says she will keep her secret won't she?  Noreen says "actually, I'm going to help you escape."

Imprisoned on The Will's ship, Doff calls his source regarding Robot IV.  The man says he was paid a boatlaod not to reveal it to "nosey pricks like you". Doff says he can double the money, but Zlotev says he's Ok for cash, what he wants is dirt and he has a way of knowing if he's being told the truth because he has Lying Cat, The Will's old animal companion.

Lying Cat, yaaay!
Doff reluctantly outs a councilman who goes to underground gay clubs and Zlotev is pleased to find out that person is a "poof". It checks out, so he tells Doff that an acquaintance of his once trailed the Prince to a pocket world on the underside of the Serpentine Belt.  The imaginary Stalk tells The Will to go kill the man who offed her. As for the journos he decides to keep them breathing while they check the lead out.

Robot IV is sitting in the wooden rocketship and being filled in on the plan to get access to Landfall.   The planet is protected by a field that prevents Wreathian magic working through it.  But the field inteferes with the Robots so when they arrive it has to be briefly dropped.  Marko will then use a teleport sword and helmet to create a tear they can bring Hazel and Klara back through. 

Prince Robot IV will pose as a lesser member of the aristocracy to ask for the field to be dropped.   Robot IV is disusted by the inference that all Robots look alike to the rest of the coalition, nevertheless he goes along with it.

In the prison, Noreen is making plans to get Hazel out by carrying her out in a box.  Then Lexie, Klara and Petrichor appear and demand to know what is going on.  Hazel says Noreen knows the "true stuff" about her and she told her because she's a good person. Petrichor says it's unsafe for Hazel in the prison, especially with the unrest fomenting Klara is up to with the stories.

Klara says Petrichor might have been designated a woman, but she still "lectures like a man".  Klara asks where Noreen would take her, Noreen says somewhere she could be cared for safely.   Klara wants to know why she wants to help, she isn't Hazel's blood. "I .. I don't know exactly" says Noreen but it has to be now.
Robot IV gets them access to Landfall.
On the wooden rocket, Robot IV calls in a request to lower the field to a bored Landfallian who barely looks at him before complying with his request. Robot IV is pissed about being considered an example of the lower aristocracy.  Then the rocket ship runs into a mine field.

The mines are living organisms and Robot IV starts fighting them off as Marko gets ready to make the jump.  He cuts the tear, he and Alana kiss and then he goes through.  Robot IV grudgingly says he knows what they are going through, "and I wish your family success".

On the planet where Ghüs has been left looking after Squire, The Will suddenly appears and demands to know where Robot IV is.  "You're not a friend" says Squire. The Will picks up Squire and tells him his father is a killer and The Stalk hallucination eggs him on to kill Squire.  But then help appears:

Ghüs: "Hurt the boy... and Ghüs will chop you deep."

Marko arrives in the prison and Petrichor holds out a shiv and says, "where did you come from?"  She sniffs him and realises he's Hazel's blood.  She then wants to know how he fits in with Noreen's plan, which totally confuses him. Noreen has Hazel in a box and is cheerfully on her way out of the prison.  Unfortunately she doesn't fool the guard who pulls a gun on her. 
Go, go Ghus!
Back with Upsher and Doff, they manage to untie themselves although Upsher says they can't get out of the ship (although they do in fact get out).  Outside The Will grumbles at Ghüs to mind his own business. Sweet Boy fires traquilizer darts at Friendo who collapses.   This enrages Ghüs who charges The Will and chops the fingers off his right hand.  The Will punches him unconcious with his other hand shouting, "you little shit!"

In the prison Noreen is refusing to allow the box to be searched.  Then Lexie and Klara create a diversion by fighting which distracts the guard.  Then Noreen knocks the guard out and looks horrified at what she has done.  Then Petrichor and Marko arrive on the scene.

Marko kneels and holds out Hazel's doll he's been keeping safe all these years. He says it must be confusing for her, and that he's her "daddy" she says.  And they hug as she repeats "Daddy" over and over.
Reunited.
The Will is still deciding what to do with Squire and Ghüs.  The imaginary Stalk wants him to kill them.  But then he hallucinates his sister The Brand.

The Brand: "Murdering defenceless preschoolers.  You've come a long way, baby brother".

She says The Stalk was a dumb obssession when what he really loved was her. The Will denies this, but The Brand says she's his "own brain you fucking dummy!"

Sadly, The Will confesses he misses her, he misses everyone.  The Brand says offing a kid won't help matters, he needs to find the one person who will call him on his bullshit.  Doff and Upsher have managed to escape The Will's ship.  They watch him return to it, when he leaves they'll be stranded. But as Doff says "we're alive" and they kiss.

In the prison, Marko opens the return portal.  Hazel jumps through saying thankyou to Noreen for everything as she disappears.  Klara however isn't going to go with him.  She doesn't want to be a burden to him and Alana and also she has a community with the other prisoners and a sense of purpose. She tells him how proud she is of him and then tells him to "go take care of your family".

However Petrichor decides to take advantage of the escape route and jumps through herself. On board the wooden rocket, the mines have been taken care of.  Then Hazel appears.  But before an emotional reunion with mum can take place, Petrichor arrives as well and attacks Alana.  Marko comes through and defuses the situation by telling Petrichor that Robot IV is on their side.

Petrichor then drops a bombshell, she says she'd never fell a female who was expecting.  "I can smell it from here.  You're pregnant" she says to Alana.  Marko looks stunned, Alana looks overjoyed and that brings this volume to an end.
End of Book Six!
Damn these cliffhangers, between this and Lazarus my tenters are well and truly hooked.  And I am fully caught up with the trades now so all I can do is drum my fingers and wait a few more months to find out what happens next.  I'm so happy Marko and Alana have Hazel back, it made my heart hurt when they lost her even if adversity has reforged a relationship that was on the verge of breaking apart.  Nice to see the gay couple of Upsher and Doff back as well as the introduction of Petrichor who could have some interesting interactions with the rest of the cast.  Brian K Vaughn is very keen on representing all sexualities and sexual identities and it's very much appreciated even if it's aliens we're talking about and not humans. Some questions have been thrown up, like what has happened to Gwendolyn and Sophie and why Lying Cat is working for someone else now.  I'm sure we'll find out more in books to come.  Klara remains a cool old lady, volunteering to stay in the prison and take care of the others there and is a prime example of how although the scope of the story is huge, it boils down people doing what they do because they do care about others and in turn that makes the reader care as well.  Despite going to some very dark places, there is always light and hope just around the corner and it's notable that so far we haven't met any outright villains, everyone is shown to have their postive and negative traits and the book takes no sides in the Wreath/Landfall war.  Of course there is still the loose cannon that is The Will bouncing about now, crazy from drugs and hallucinating all the time and I haven't forgotten Future!Hazel's warnings about him in the previous book.  And finally Alana being pregnant again is a huge development and I am sure is going to be fodder for some serious drama further down the line.  Fiona Staple's art remains a delight, as I have said before she almost has a western "manga" style, with most of the art concentrating on the characters not the surroundings (although she does show us some bitchin' spaceships so it's not as if she can't do non-character stuff).  Which probably explains why she can pencil and ink the series and keep to a regular schedule with no fill-in artists so far.  Saga is still an immensely enjoyable tale, both epic and intimate and long may it run.

10 comments:

  1. One of the many brilliant things about "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" was how the entire premise of the show was explained in the theme song. Come to think of it, that was a common thing once.

    *starts singing about how 'they ain't got nothing but their sheets'*

    But in the absence of a Saga theme song I'm going off to read your previous posts because this looks frikking amazeballs!

    I had to stop myself reading, despite being totally drawn in because I want to know how we got here. I love this already though. The art reminds me of the mobeius stuff that I like (and similar Euro Sci fi like Serpieri etc) and it has that whole Metal Hurlant vibe. 'Ordinary' people in extra ordinary settings (which of course would be just everyday life to them). I love stuff like that.

    So that's my weekend reading sorted. Catch you later.

    Oh, and thanks to your intro I've now got Whales 'Hobo humping slobo babe' stuck in my head. :-)

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  2. I am so very sorry :D

    Have a fun read, been a wild ride for the characters already. Also a rude one. I'm right this moment plugging my way through LEGO Batman 3 which is mY weekend sorted. Already in love with the total nerd fanservice, when I make Wonder Woman fly the old 70's theme plays. Bliss!

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  3. "Thank goodness she's on our side"

    Now you've got me singing it!

    Is it just nostalgia or were those classic theme tunes objectively better? I mean as soon as Homer started singing "Spider pig, spider pig" we instantly all knew where he was coming from.

    On a related note, something struck me the other day. I was reminiscing about the old 2000AD 'Summer Specials', those extended comics they brought out in the holidays. As filler they used to reproduce stories from some of the 1940s and 50s Sci fi strips. They were actually very good. Although you might have a laugh at some of the values. (brilliant lady scientist saves the day, but also rewards the hero with a proper home cooked meal sort of thing). At the time it seemed like reading something from the Victorian era. But then it was pointed out there's more of a gap in time between now and those summer specials than the specials and the stories they were reproducing. Heck, even Metal Hurlant is like 30+ years ago now!

    But Saga is really getting me back in those times. I'm having a lovely immersion in what made me love Sci fi in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Fighting for her rights, in her satin tights!" Also when you fly as Superman the classic John William's theme plays. Ostensibly this is LEGO Batman but really it's a big gooey kiss to ultra nerd lovers of the DCU. I mean the friggin Batman of zur-en-arrh is one of the unlockable characters and he only appeared in like two issues of Grant Morrison's Batman RIP series.

    I don't think I ever got any 2000AD summer specials, but the 1987 Judge Dredd Special got me through a pretty miserable camping holiday in Wales that year.

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  5. I've surfaced briefly from my Sagasm stint. I'm in danger of a thrill power overdose. Might have to apply some thill suckers like leeches just to bring me down a bit.

    Wow, it's a bit like the Lazeri story. It'll take some digesting when I get through. I think I already have my favourite moment though. When slave Sophie says she's dirty inside and cat says 'lying'. Must confess to a bit of contact lens trouble then.

    (I also like she corrected to honest cat. The previous name was triggering my semantic Nazi tendencies)

    I'll pause for a while to get my head clear and divert myself with considering whether Gal Gadot is a worthy successor to Lynda Carter. I'll admit that I actually checked how tall she was. So that's a point in her favour. I'll be very disappointed though if the new film doesn't at least pay homage to the classic theme tune.

    Unless of course the new film is rubbish, then I'll be yelling about 'how dare you!' like I did with the robocop reboot.

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  6. varalys the dark is having technical difficulties.30 November 2016 at 13:04

    Hiyah Alan haven't posted because my damn internet has been down since sunday and Talk Talk are being useless at diagnosing the problem. If I am offline next week I'll use mum's PC and upload a bunch of posts at once.

    Hopefully we can talk Saga soon, glad you've been enjoying it. And I hope the Wonder Woman film is good too.

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  7. So nice to hear from you and that you're ok. I had visions of you laid up with your back (even though we all know that's just a cover for your crime fighting).

    Yeah, really enjoyed the reviews. Hope Talk Talk get you sorted soon. I probably won't see the WW film until it's a quid in the car boot sale or a mate gets it; that's pretty much how I roll. :-)

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  8. I'm ba-ack! Although this is Talk Talk, I could be gone again before you know it. Have quickly uploaded my first post of UK comics month. Actually I'm pretty much the same with films, when it drops to under a fiver in CEX that's when I'll usually see it. Only time I haven't was when a very good friend of mine bought me Deadpool just after it came out. Which is an awesomely good film.

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  9. I just had to comment; that's *A* Lying Cat with that guy, not *THE* Lying Cat. The fact s/he is purple rather than blue is telling. Plus, since I'm up-to-date and don't want to spoil, I know where Lying Cat is and she's not there.

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  10. Ever try to maximize your free BTC collections with a BITCOIN FAUCET ROTATOR?

    ReplyDelete