Scoundrel Round-Up #7–Lieutenant Commander William Thomas Riker (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Hey, just because I'm wearing red doesn't mean I'm going to die! I'm not an ensign! (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)
Hey, just because I’m wearing red doesn’t mean I’m going to die! I’m not an ensign! (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)

Not every scoundrel has to live his life outside the law. In fact, when the scoundrel in question is part of the establishment itself, that makes it even more interesting. Starfleet has a history of scoundrels, but for number seven, I decided to look in on my favorite scoundrel-y Starfleet officer. You may know him as Number Two, but Lieutenant Commander William Thomas Riker definitely has a scoundrel side to him and I think that’s part of why I like him so much.

Will Riker was born in the year 2335 in Alaska (nice to see that state still exists some three hundred years from now). Like many scoundrels, one of his parents died when he was quite young. Will’s mother, Betty, died when he was only two years old, leaving him in the care of his father, Kyle. Will’s relationship with Kyle was never that great and his father abandoned him when he was 15 years old. Like many scoundrels, Riker’s poor relationship with his father helped turn him into a very independent young man. Riker entered Starfleet Academy at 18 and excelled in this new environment, revealing a keen tactical mind that helped him graduate eighth in his class.

Riker’s first post in Starfleet was aboard the USS Pegasus. This would also be the first time Riker’s actions were against what others would consider right due to his code of honor. Captain Pressman of the USS Pegasus was using the ship to test an illegal Starfleet-designed cloaking device. This cloaking device was extremely dangerous and the crew mutinied against Captain Pressman. However, because he was fresh out of the Academy, Riker’s sense of duty and loyalty to his captain put him at odds with the rest of the crew and was one of the only crew members to defend Captain Pressman. The mutinying crew was killed when the USS Pegasus’ cloaking device overloaded and destroyed the ship. Riker and Captain Pressman survived and Pressman commended Riker for his loyalty. As Riker grew older, he questioned whether that decision was right. Starfleet later investigated the Pegasus incident, but Starfleet Intelligence classified the incident and any further investigation was halted. While Riker benefited from this decision, it still bothered him that neither he nor Pressman faced justice for their actions.

Following his stint on the USS Pegasus, Riker then transferred to the USS Potemkin where he developed a new starship combat technique that used a planet’s own magnetism to confuse enemy sensors. It’s something that only someone who was willing to think outside the box could come up with. While serving aboard the USS Potemkin, Riker wound up accidentally getting cloned by a transporter beam. Riker was on a rescue mission to a research station and like any good hero, he refused to be transported back to the ship until all the researchers were saved. However, while Riker was beaming out, the atmospheric conditions that created problems for the researchers nearly dissipated Riker’s transporter beam. To compensate, the transporter chief used a second confinement beam on Riker’s pattern. Riker was successfully beamed back to the USS Potemkin and the transporter chief shut the other containment beam down. In a move that could only happen in Star Trek, though, the second transporter beam was reflected back into the research station and another Will Riker materialized there. This Will Riker remained stranded in the research station for eight years until the USS Enterprise arrived at the research station and the Rikers met up. Will Riker remained on the USS Enterprise while his accidental clone took the name Thomas and became part of Starfleet as well. Will Riker would serve on the USS Hood before joining the USS Enterprise crew in the year 2364.

While aboard the USS Enterprise, Riker had a wide variety of adventures. He led quite a few away teams and was killed and brought back to life by several different alien entities. Right away, he drew the attention of Q. Q thought Riker was so interesting he gave him the powers of the Q Continuum. Of course, Riker with Q Continuum abilities did not end well as every time he used the powers, something bad would happen. Picard eventually convinced him to give up the abilities. Shortly after dabbling in Q powers, Riker wound up seducing a computer program designed to distract him so the Bynars could steal the USS Enterprise to save their planet. This would mark the first, but definitely not the last, time Riker thinking with his dick would get either himself or the Enterprise in trouble. Mercifully, Riker would grow a beard after his first year on the Enterprise and apparently his beard made him less of an idiot, though more of a scoundrel.

There we go. Now that I have a beard, I'm not a horny idiot anymore...well, not as horny. (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)
There we go. Now that I have a beard, I’m not a horny idiot anymore…well, not as horny. (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)

Riker was tasked with assisting Starfleet prepare for the Borg invasion and developed several new combat techniques that relied on cunning and deception. Captain Picard was assimilated by the Borg and it was up to his number two, now promoted to captain, to stop him from assimilating Earth. Riker launched a daring rescue mission after the Battle of Wolf 359 to free Picard from the Borg, hoping that if they could free Picard (now going by the name Locutus), the Borg would stop their attack on Earth. While this plan didn’t work as planned, Picard was able to briefly break free from the Borg’s control and tell Data how to stop the Borg fleet. Riker’s multiple commands of the Enterprise (including during the Borg War) usually ended with the ship nearly being destroyed. It happened during the Borg War, but the ship was also overwhelmed and boarded by the Ferengi when Riker was in command because Captain Picard was turned into a child, and it happened a third time when Riker was left in command and had to use the Enterprise to fight the Klingon Duras sisters. Riker managed to take down the Duras sisters using some quick thinking that exploited a flaw in their outdated ship’s plasma coil, but the Duras sisters’ Bird-of-Prey damaged the Enterprise’s warp core during the fight. Riker had to abandon the engineering section of the ship but the shockwave of engineering blowing up from a massive warp core breach caused the saucer section to crash into the planet Veridian III. Everyone survived, but Riker had yet another destroyed starship under his belt.

Riker was an excellent tactician (though an incredibly unlucky captain) but he was also an essential part of Starfleet diplomatic missions. However, when it came to Riker making “first contact” with a species, it was usually more of a sexual variety. While he may not have banged as many aliens as classic space-pimp James Tiberius Kirk, Riker was no slouch—hooking up with at least 15 different alien ladies. Heck, even when he wasn’t himself he had some pretty good luck with women. As part of a diplomatic mission, Riker had to play host to a Trill symbiont. The alien developed an infatuation with Dr. Crusher and because Riker was such a good looking man, she hooked up with Riker because, thanks to the symbiont, there was no way Riker would ever remember they did it. Of course, Riker’s longest lasting relationship was his on again, off again relationship with Deanna Troi. Even that relationship was complicated, though, thanks to Troi’s mother (played by Gene Roddenberry’s real-life wife…that had to have been an awkward day for Jonathan Frakes, having to play grabass with his series’ creator) who decided he was an ideal candidate for her to mate with. That’s just how pimp Will Riker was—even his then-girlfriend’s mother wanted to jump his bones.

A year after the Enterprise-D was destroyed under Riker’s command, he and the rest of the crew reunited on the newly-commissioned Enterprise-E and in the year 2373, the Enterprise-E helped Starfleet fight off another Borg invasion and followed a Borg sphere back in time to the year 2063 to stop a Borg plot to alter history. The Borg planned to keep Zefram Cochrane from breaking the warp barrier in the Phoenix. If the Earth didn’t get warp technology, the Earth wouldn’t be part of the Federation and the Borg wouldn’t have to deal with pesky Earth-men screwing up their plans to assimilate the universe. The Borg attacked the Phoenix, severely damaging it and Cochrane’s confidence. Riker talked Cochrane into taking the flight and both he and Geordi LaForge joined Cochrane on the Phoenix’s initial flight, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Riker, sans beard (which explains why Star Trek: Insurrection wasn’t a great movie), joined the Enterprise crew in defying the Federation regarding the Ba’ku people. The Federation was working alongside the Son’a people to harvest the metaphasic radiation from the Ba’ku’s homeworld.  Riker took the Enterprise out of the system to tell the Federation that the forced relocation was part of a Son’an plan to eliminate the Ba’ku but the Enterprise was attacked by Son’a vessels en route. Because Riker was in command, the Enterprise was severely damaged. The ship had to eject its warp core to seal off a subspace tear so the Enterprise couldn’t even run. Riker, thinking on the fly, found a way to use the Son’a’s own weapons against them using a tactic later dubbed the “Riker maneuver” which involved collecting metreon gas and redirecting it towards the enemy ships. Son’a weapons reacted badly to this gas and the Son’a weapons wound up destroying their own ships.

Captain, I saved your chair for you...and that's it. The rest of the ship is trashed, but here, have your chair back. (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)
Captain, I saved your chair for you…and that’s it. The rest of the ship is trashed, but here, have your chair back. (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)

In 2379, Riker finally moved on from the Enterprise and took command of the USS Titan with his wife, Deanan Troi by his side. However, fate (and Hollywood) decided to get the Enterprise crew back together for one last mission as the Reman overthrew the Romulans. While the Romulans may not have been the friendliest people in the galaxy, the Remans were more warlike and genocidal. Having spent centuries as the Romulans slave labor caste and as cannon fodder for the Romulan war machine, it was not exactly a surprise that these people wanted to cause pain. The Remans planned to destroy Earth by using a weapon that unleashed thalaron radiation on the planet. The Reman’s brutal attacks crippled the Enterprise (for once not while Riker was in command) and Riker and Worf headed up the security details to repel the Reman boarders. In a battle of Number Twos, Riker squared off with Viceroy, Praetor Shinzon’s second in command, on board the Enterprise. Riker eventually defeated the Reman by knocking him down a maintenance shaft.

Again, with Will Riker we see a lot of evidence for a scoundrel-y nature, even though he’s part of the establishment. He was an exceedingly gregarious and outgoing character. He liked to hold an against-regulation poker game in his quarters. It may not have been Starfleet approved, but all the Enterprise command staff was in on it. Then we look at Riker’s track record with the ladies and you definitely start cementing the scoundrel vibe. Riker was such a smooth talker, he didn’t even need to be the same species to get ladies’ attention. Plus, Riker wasn’t afraid to make crazy decisions on the fly. Yeah, it usually resulted in the destruction of whatever ship he was commanding, but doing so usually meant that he kept something even worse from happening. You don’t get that kind of outside-the-box thinking from someone who’s at least not a little bit scoundrel.

*Insert your own joke involving the word "tromboner" here* (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)
*Insert your own joke involving the word “tromboner” here* (Image courtesy of the Star Trek Wiki)








Scoundrel Round-Up #8–Talon Karrde (Star Wars)

All the best scoundrels wear powder blue capes. (Images courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
All the best scoundrels wear powder blue capes. (Images courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

Much like the last entry on the list of scoundrels, thanks to the Disney buy-out, this particular Star Wars character doesn’t exist anymore, but I don’t care. Heir to the Empire was the first Star Wars novel I read, and Talon Karrde played a big role in the Thrawn trilogy and he definitely made an impression on me when I first met him there. Timothy Zahn created some great characters during the time he wrote in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and in my opinion, Talon Karrde was probably his best.

Though he first appeared in a book set after the fall of the Empire, Talon Karrde’s backstory stretches back to the pre-Rebellion days. Talon Karrde was basically a scoundrel since birth. He first started working for a crime boss named Jorj Car’das and became one of his go-to smugglers and information brokers. Early in his career, while fleeing from Imperial pursuit, Karrde blindly jumped into hyperspace and when his ship reverted back to real space, he found himself staring down a fleet of old Dreadnaught­-class cruisers. Thinking he was toast, Karrde immediately jumped away again. Analyzing the data after he reached safety, Karrde realized he had actually found the legendary Katana fleet, a fleet of Dreadnaughts that were designed modified to be run with a fraction of the necessary crew that disappeared after the lead ship’s computer malfunctioned and had the entire fleet jump into hyperspace while unmanned. Karrde kept this information a secret for many years because he knew it was worth money, but he didn’t have the resources to exploit it at that time in his career. It would be the first of many times Talon Karrde realized that sometimes the right information can be more useful than the biggest blaster. Karrde worked for Car’das for many years until Car’das mysteriously disappeared with his entire cache of information. This lead to a power struggle within Car’das’s organization that could have turned bloody had Karrde, as one of Car’das’s most trusted lieutenants, made the offer of splitting Car’das’s organization only to take it all over himself in a bloodless coup. Though the organization was not as large as the Hutts’ cartel or Black Sun, Karrde’s reputation as an honest and trustworthy scoundrel meant that doors were open to him that weren’t open to these more ruthless organizations. During the Galactic Civil War, Karrde’s organization remained neutral, aiding whichever side could pay him. Jabba’s death opened up the galactic underworld and Karrde recruited quite a few members of Jabba’s inner circle and expanded his organization. It was at this time he moved his base of operations to Myrkr, which is where we first met him in Heir to the Empire. Karrde remained very hands-on in the underworld despite being a major player. His hands-on approach led him to cross paths with Mara Jade while investigating a rival crime lord’s operation. Karrde had hoped to take it over, but once he realized that the crime lord’s safari business was engaged in hunting sentient beings and was being used as a cover to illegally extract resources from the planet, Karrde decided to act to take the operation down. It was at this point Karrde first met the woman who would become his most trusted lieutenant, Mara Jade.

A few months after meeting Mara Jade, Karrde decided to make her his second in command, but at around the same time, Karrde’s organization drew the attention of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn went to Myrkr to harvest a creature native to the planet called ysalamiri. These creatures could naturally suppress the Force within a few meters of it. Karrde aided Thrawn in safely removing the delicate creatures from the planet and felt that something was up and began carrying the creatures in his ship as well. Despite assisting Thrawn in this instance, though, he was still very reluctant to get involved with either the Empire or the New Republic and continually acted in a way that kept him neutral in the conflict. However, when Luke Skywalker came into Thrawn’s hands, his neutrality soon came to an end. Karrde didn’t want to turn Skywalker over to Thrawn for fear the New Republic finding out but he also couldn’t let Skywalker go because that would surely get back to Thrawn and that would be the end of any peaceful relationship he had with the remnants of the Empire. While Skywalker was in Karrde’s possession, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian gained an audience with him to try and bring Karrde’s organization into the New Republic, but once again, he refused. Unfortunately, while Solo and Calrissian were on their mission, Thrawn returned again with another job for Karrde. The chaos caused by trying to hide Solo and Calrissian from Thrawn and Skywalker from both parties afforded Skywalker a chance to escape. Skywalker’s escape and subsequent rescue by Han made it clear to Thrawn that Karrde had been working with the New Republic and Karrde knew he needed to go on the run now that he’d made an enemy of the Empire.

Karrde was forced to go on the run, though he did have the perfect bargaining chip to buy himself out of trouble with Thrawn—the location of the Katana fleet. Thrawn came to Myrkr to get Karrde’s assistance in finding large warships and no one but Karrde knew the location of this fleet of over 100 Dreadnaughts. Despite Mara Jade’s counsel to sell Thrawn the information, though, Karrde refused because he knew that selling that information would only buy him out of problems in the short term. He believed the New Republic would outlast Thrawn’s attacks even if the Empire got the Katana fleet and he did not want to make an enemy of what would likely be the next galactic government. Mara Jade, acting on her own, sold Thrawn the location of the Katana fleet but was captured after doing so. Thrawn attempted to use Jade as a bargaining chip with Karrde and captured him when he came to retrieve her. This ambush was enough to turn Karrde against the Empire. Karrde was subsequently rescued by Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade and then attempted to sell the location of the Katana fleet to the New Republic. Several high-ranking politicians, most notably a Bothan named Borsk Fey’lya, distrusted Karrde and used bureaucratic red tape to slow down the deal. Karrde convinced Leia Organa Solo to trust him and the two launched a secret mission ahead of Fey’lya’s own group to prevent Fey’lya from getting control of the Katana fleet by crewing them with New Republic officers loyal to him. Karrde also used his resources to exonerate Admiral Ackbar, who was currently being held on charges of treason partly orchestrated by Fey’lya. The New Republic and Empire arrived at the Katana fleet’s location at almost the same time. Fey’lya ordered the New Republic to abandon the fleet and leave the soldiers already on the ships to die. However, Karrde, along with Leia Organa Solo, managed to turn Fey’lya’s soldiers against him when they broadcast out his statement that he didn’t care about the soldiers who supported him and that they were pawns he could sacrifice for his own political ambitions. Not only did this turn the tide of the battle, but it severely weakened Fey’lya’s political strength for many years, protecting Karrde from the Bothan’s retribution. Karrde being Karrde, he continued to remain neutral after this battle, though he would continue to assist the New Republic in bringing down Thrawn by using his resources to follow the money trail and find Thrawn’s secret cloning facility.

Though not officially working with the New Republic in any capacity, Karrde helped create Smugglers’ Alliance. Smugglers are a notoriously shifty bunch, but Karrde managed to bring a large group of smugglers together for a time to work for the New Republic. However, even when working for the New Republic, not everything was on the up and up. To pay his smugglers, he had his tech hack into New Republic files to pay them. The Smugglers’ Alliance was a boon to the New Republic and though Karrde never acted directly for them, his involvement gave it the legitimacy in the underworld community for it to work.

Several years after the fall of Thrawn, Karrde’s notoriety as an information broker would benefit the New Republic once again. Grand Admiral Thrawn apparently returned from the dead and released damning information about the Bothans. According to a document in his possession, Bothans assisted Emperor Palpatine in committing genocide against the Caamasi people. The Caamasi were proponents of non-violent resistance to the Empire and the people of Caamas were all but wiped out when the planet’s shields mysteriously failed as the Empire arrived to bring them in line. With the shields down, Star Destroyers bombarded the planet and killed nearly everyone on the planet. The document revealed that it was a group of Bothan spies that assisted the Empire in bringing the shields down. This information threw the New Republic into chaos as Bothans, while a key part of the Rebel Alliance, always had a reputation of being cunning and duplicitous. Considering Bothan politician Borsk Fey’lya was now a high-ranking member of the New Republic government, such conflict could be bad for the entire government. Leia Organa Solo tasked Karrde with finding an original copy of the document Thrawn released to see if there were alterations made to it. To do so, Karrde would have to find his old boss and mentor, Jorj Car’das. Karrde was reluctant to track down Car’das, considering he took over his organization, but Car’das was surprisingly welcoming. Though Car’das did not have an original copy of the Caamas Document in his cache of information, he did give Karrde a datacard with information the New Republic would find useful. The datacard revealed that Thrawn was not alive and in fact was being impersonated by a con man. With “Thrawn” exposed as a fake, Supreme Commander Pellaeon (Thrawn’s former second-in-command) reasserted control over Imperial forces and called a truce with the New Republic. Karrde assisted in negotiating the treaty between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant, which was his first step down the road of legitimacy. Karrde began working more closely with the New Republic and provided vital intelligence during the Yuuzhan Vong War and the Second Galactic Civil War.

Karrde’s biography reads as your classic scoundrel. He was content at playing both sides for as long as he could, but he still had a clear code of ethics and morality. Like many scoundrels, he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, at one point even killing a bounty hunter that was coming after him on his own, but like many genteel scoundrel types, he tried to avoid violence whenever possible. He would use his knowledge and information to get him out of trouble, but when pressed, he wasn’t exactly afraid to throw down. However, this nature often tended to rub people the wrong way. Since Karrde was always looking out for his bottom line, many outside the fringe community saw him as a mercenary who would sell his services to the highest bidder. However, that interpretation ignored the fact that Karrde was loyal to his people, even beyond their worth to him as assets. Inside the fringe community, though, Karrde’s hatred of kidnapping and slavery showed that he was as trustworthy as someone in their line of work could be. Karrde also extended protection to any who were under his roof as guests and would not sell them out, even if the money was good. Once again, all the elements of a classic scoundrel are there. Add in that he was a sharp dresser and had some pretty impressive facial hair and you have another clear scoundrel. Karrde was such a popular character, he even made an appearance in the somewhat obscure Star Wars Collectable Card Game. The game relied largely on movie footage for still images of characters, but they dabbled in the Expanded Universe from time to time, and Karrde was one of the first. Karrde is well loved by fans of Zahn’s work (myself included) and Zahn loved him so much that he even posed for the card image of Karrde for the Star Wars Collectable Card Game. That’s some dedication to a character you created yourself.

Man, I know all information is useful, but I didn’t need to see Jabba the Hutt’s sex tape… (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
Talon Karrde or his creator Timothy Zahn? Trick question, it's both! (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)
Talon Karrde or his creator Timothy Zahn? Trick question, it’s both! (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

Scoundrel Round-Up #9–Dash Rendar (Star Wars)


I may have been created in the 90s, but I’m still rocking 80s shoulderpads (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

So, talking about this next scoundrel is going to be kind of awkward because since the Disney-Lucasfilm merger he’s been declared non-canonical, but I don’t care. Shadows of the Empire and its new character, Dash Rendar, are real to me. Yes, he was introduced as a kind of emergency back-up Han Solo, but I don’t care. I have fond memories of this book and unlike some of the Star Wars books I’ve read over the years, it still holds up without the nostalgia I have for it and I think that’s part of why I’ve included Dash here. Shadows of the Empire was a multimedia event, with LucasFilm not only telling the story in book form, but also in the comics published by Dark Horse. It also had its own soundtrack and, if you dust off your old N64, you can even play as Dash Rendar.

To me, Dash Rendar is what Han Solo would have been if he’d been born rich instead of being born a scoundrel. Like Han, he was a Corellian, but his family owned a large shipping company that was gutted by Emperor Palpatine after his brother destroyed the Imperial Museum on Coruscant as a result of sabotage by a competitor (more on this competitor later). Dash was training at the Imperial Academy on Carida when this happened so he was summarily dismissed from the Imperial military as further punishment. So, like any military-trained spacer who gets drummed out of the service, Dash became a smuggler and gun-for-hire. Operating from a YT-2400 Corellian freighter (a more advanced freighter produced by the same people that made the Millennium Falcon), Dash and his super-intelligent droid companion LE-BO2D9 (Leebo) made a name for themselves in all sorts of scoundrel-y circles in the galaxy. Dash would run afoul of the Imperials multiple times during his life but shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Dash made his first inroads with the Rebel Alliance when he was hired to protect a pop star who was actually a secret Rebel agent. Even Dash didn’t know this when he took the job, and when he learned what it was, he nearly quit but the money was too good and he hung around and facilitated the delivery of vital data to the Rebel Alliance. Unlike Han, though, Dash didn’t really care much for politics and went back to the fringes of galactic society afterwards, running weapons and contraband throughout the galaxy. Dash apparently had a few somewhat forgettable adventures in the Star Wars comics series that I won’t recount here. I read a summary of them and they sound just a little odd for my tastes, so I’d rather remember the Dash Rendar I met in Shadows of the Empire (and the more recent Shadow Games that’s set before it) than try and understand why Dash did things like fight a sentient starship. Dash bumped into Han Solo a few times during the intervening years, and was delivering a shipment of supplies to Echo Base during the early scenes of Empire Strikes Back. However, when Han was captured by Boba Fett on Bespin, Lando called in a favor with Dash and he jointed their motley crew. Dash found Boba Fett on Gall but their attempts to retrieve Han failed. Following the failed rescue attempt, Leia hired Dash to keep an eye on Luke after Imperial assassins tried to kill him. While on Tatooine, Dash was present when Luke received a message from a group of Bothans that learned the Empire was in the process of building a second Death Star. In a way, Dash was responsible for the Star Wars joke about many Bothans dying to bring the Rebels this information. He failed to shoot down an incoming missile that destroyed a ship full of Bothans during their extraction from the Imperial facility where the second Death Star plans were being developed. While Dash and Luke were retrieving the information on the second Death Star, Leia was making overtures with Black Sun and their nefarious leader Prince Xizor. Xizor took Leia captive after she realized that Xizor was the one trying to kill Luke and not the Empire, at least this time. Luke and Dash teamed up to rescue Leia and the decision to go after Xizor was easy for Dash since it was Xizor’s business, Xizor Transport Systems, that sabotaged brother’s freighter and caused all the Rendar family’s problems. The two managed to infiltrate Xizor’s base on Coruscant and rescue Leia, but the job wasn’t finished with that. Xizor escaped to a space station in orbit around Coruscant and while Xizor provoked the wrath of Darth Vader, Dash decided he wanted revenge as well and attacked the space station in the Outrider. Vader’s super Star Destroyer got the killing shot on the space station and Outrider was caught in the debris field. Though Luke, Leia and Lando thought Dash died, he escaped and went underground for many years, continuing his scoundrel-y ways.

Dash’s creators could have very readily made him a carbon copy of Han Solo, but they mercifully realized that wouldn’t work. He had different motivations, he had different enemies, he even had a different style about him but they also avoided the pitfalls of making him Han’s opposite in every way. However, Dash is definitely still a scoundrel. He became a rogue after he lost everything but when he had the chance to get revenge on the people and groups that took it from him, he had no issue with doing so. That’s not exactly the hallmark of a bad guy, but he’s definitely not a white knight good guy either. His motivations are complicated but they generally wind up putting him on the good side of the spectrum, even if sometimes it takes him a while to get there. However, he’s not one to let his morals get in the way of a payday. Much like Han, throughout Shadows of the Empire, the easiest way to get Dash to do what they needed him to was to pay him. By the end of Shadows, he grew into something more than just a mercenary, but he also didn’t become nearly the idealist Han Solo did after joining the Rebel Alliance. Dash may not be the most original scoundrel, but to fill the scoundrel role in a book set while Han was trapped in carbonite, Dash did his job admirably. Going back and fleshing out his character in another book set before Shadows of the Empire really helped his case and gave him enough character that I think he’s worthy of inclusion on this list.

Only one Bothan died in the creation of this post (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)


Cosmic Bootlegger Released

Long un-awaited Cosmic Bootlegger (download) has arrived.


You have recently inherited a coveted interstellar merchant’s license from your cousin’s mother’s sister’s husband. After managing to secure a small ship you are now ready to become the local star cluster’s most (in)famous trader. Unfortunately there’s only 26 weeks before the Merchant of the Millennium awards, and you have a lot of hard work to do if you’re going to win the jumbonium tiara.

Current interstellar drives are incapable of directly taking you anywhere in the cluster; so, you can only travel to other systems connected to your present location by starlanes. Much to the surprise of those who originally discovered the starlanes and chagrin of speeders, it takes exactly one week to traverse a starlane regardless of the distance between systems, and there are no rest stops; so, bring plenty of toilet paper. Fortunately this keeps the galactic police service out of the starlanes as they stay near the ends where the donuts are.

Only two weeks to Minkar. We just have to make a pit stop in Ras Algthi for some Slurm
Only two weeks to Minkar. We just have to make a pit stop in Ras Algthi for some Slurm

When visiting a system you have the option of going through the customs checkpoint, where your ship will be searched for contraband. Your ship has a variety of locations to conceal contraband from the initial cursory inspection. If unconcealed contraband is found it will trigger a thorough inspection of your ship, all contraband will be confiscated and you’ll face a hefty fine. Alternately you can attempt to sneak into the system by navigating an asteroid field – but keep in mind that spaceships don’t react well to asteroid hits.

Dodging Asteroids - Good
Dodging Asteroids – Good
Face Planing on Asteroids - Bad
Face Planting on Asteroids – Bad

The local cluster consists of a group of 5-10 star systems connected by starlanes. Each system has passed laws making some of the cluster’s 12 commodity goods illegal; the illegal goods in each system will vary from game to game. In each system you are able to trade any of the commodities regardless of legality because, well, everyone needs 200 Proof Slurm to party, and you always happen to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a giant worm. Similar to a well known game from the historical archives the prices of goods change every time you move, vary wildly and often make no sense as everyone and their cousin’s mother’s sister’s son smuggles illicit goods into the system. You’ll start with 5000 credits and a ‘short cylinder’ class ship. It has a cargo hold with 30 spaces – 5 of which double as smuggling compartments.

The commodities that can be traded in the local cluster:

  • Spice – Sometimes called Melange. It’s the only substance that will get space navigators high enough to plot new trade routes.
  • Pentainum Ore – It’s like tri-tainium ore except two better.
  • All Beef Patties – As cows are an endangered species, beef can fetch a hefty premium on the black angus market, also good for greasing palms and emergency rations.
  • Soilent Green – Yep, it’s still made out of people.
  • Antimatter Rods – It’s the fuel of the future and incredibly explosive: handle with caution.
  • Bending Robots – They can bend a girder to any angle you want.
  • Sonic Actuators – Used in sonic screwdrivers and wrenches and hammers – oh my.
  • Intestinal Parasites – The future’s diet drug of choice because we’d rather have disgusting worms in our bowels than exert self control.
  • 200 Proof Slurm – Space’s most rockin’ adult-beverage.
  • Food Replicators – Tea, Earl Grey, HOT!
  • Plot Hole Navigators – They make all of storyline flaws in our favorite scifi and anime shows make sense.
  • Tribbles – The hamster of the future. Just don’t let them touch.