“The fast draw is a bit overrated…sure it sells holoflicks, but in real life? I’ve seen more go down that way than just about any other. Sure, speed counts, but so does accuracy. It doesn’t do you any good if you shoot the floor five times while your opponent puts the bead on you for good…the real test is the look before the guns come out. When you look someone directly in the eyes, that’s what really separates the professionals from the amateurs.” — Han Solo, to historian Voren Na’al
From every corner of the galaxy, in every period of history since the invention of the slughthrower, they’ve come, always under various names. Gunslingers. Blastfighters. Shootists. Beings who make their reputations and sometimes their livelihoods looking down the barrel of a primed blaster. They vary as wildly in their disposition as they do in origins. Some are paper nexu, with no grit to back up their talk. For every Gallandro or Boba Fett there is a Swifty Yonsen or a Jodo Kast. Some shun celebrity and go unsung, like Vhonte Tervho of the Cuy’val Dor, who passed her phenomenal prowess with a pair of DC-17s on to thousands of elite clone commanders during the Clone Wars. Some, like Cemma The Younger, Shoto Eyefire, or Glott, never make much more than a passing story or two in the local holonews before they burn out. They live fast and die slow, the slap of nerf-hide, the hot sting of a blaster bolt, a flash of red light, the thrum of a well-worn broom handled pistol in their hands the last sensations they experience in this world. The exploits of Jedi and war heroes overshadow some of them, but some, just some, make a name for themselves without lightsabers or vast armies. They smirk at the derision of more civilized, “elegant” types, and will tell you that a blaster is only as clumsy and random as the hand that pulls it.
Bulduga — Old hands say the trickiest part of gunslinging is dying “game”; that is, making sure one’s death serves as a suitable punctuation to one’s life. This is where the legends of men like Gallandro and Jango Fett persist in spite of their less than impressive endings, whereas the death of Bulduga of Ithor totally outshines his life. When their herdship The Ottega Dawn was taken over by the Confederacy of Independent Systems in the early months of the Clone Wars, Bulduga and Onca were among the mutineers who took up arms and reclaimed their home. Something in the brothers took more solace in violence than in the pacifist traditions of their race, and like the Moomo brothers before them, Bulduga and Onca soon took to a life of bounty hunting. Whereas Onca favored a variety of weapons, Bulduga fancied himself a gunslinger, and modeled his style after the nefarious Cad Bane, sporting fashionable red eye goggles, a low-slung holster, and a stylish, wide brimmed hat. He had a hair trigger temper, and was known to opt for the ‘dead’ stipulation on warrants if his prey dared to use the epithet “hammerhead” in range of his aural flaps. Bulduga and Onca’s impressive exploits and faster-than-light rise attracted the attention of Count Dooku, who personally invited them to Serenno to participate in The Box, a grueling crucible-type elimination competition to determine which five out of twelve of the galaxy’s most skilled bounty hunters qualified to form a team the count was assembling to perform a high profile task (the abduction of Chancellor Palpatine). Bulduga found himself face to face for the first time with his idol Cad Bane. Bane, upon laying eyes on Bulduga and noticing the quality (and perhaps similarity) of his hat, coldly remarked, “Nice hat. Where’d you get it?” Bulduga had always been a quick thinker, and his experience in the life and death trade had taught him to detect a threat. His hand dropped to his pistol, but he was terrifically outmatched, and Bane made the last seconds of the Ithorian’s life a better cantina story than the totality of his career. Weapon of choice: Modified Luxan Penetrator.
Longo Two-Guns — While many blasterslingers and outlaws fall prey to hubris and a need to expand their reputation, there are numerous individuals who were mostly content to carve out a respectable niche for themselves in a dark corner of the galaxy lite on the authority of the law. Longo Two-Guns was not one of those. Like many natives of Clantaano III, Longo was born into brigandry. Along with his two cousins Radd Hardwikk and the unstable “Deadeye” Klintee, they quickly established reputations as dangerous gunmen. Soon their ranks swelled to include “Black Eye” Cahoon, “Dusty” Rengo, Clem “Trigger” Vaneer, and “Wrong Way” Wint. The gang left Clantaano III to ply its trade elsewhere in the greater galaxy. Tatooine in the Outer Rim, with its arid climate so like home and its proliferation of criminal operations proved a perfect target for the relocation of the Longo gang. Longo soon made contact with Miktha, a local Jawa criminal, who in turn brought the Niktos Naktu Jeera and Ona Kragg, as well as Trandoshan Frossk into the fold, each bringing with them their respective muscle to bolster the gang’s presence. Longo took over the remote settlement of Mos Gamos, using a warehouse for storing Podracers from the annual Boonta Eve Classic as his base of operations. The gang quickly assumed control of surrounding criminal operations, clashing with and subsuming Jabba the Hutt’s protection rackets and eventually siding with his rival Gardulla in a deathstick distribution enterprise. As a personal affront against Jabba, “Deadeye” Klintee and “Black Eye” Cahoon kidnapped a few of Jabba’s Twi’lek dancing girls, and Hardwikk and Miktha attempted to assassinate the Hutt by distributing exploding chupas at a Podrace. The enraged Hutt set his sights on destroying the upstart gang once and for all, but Longo and his cousins proved more than a match for the mercenaries and hired guns the Hutt sent their way. Soon Longo was boasting that he was the “fastest blaster on Tatooine” and talking publicly of his intent to expand his territory into neighboring settlements owned by the Hutt. Jabba obliged the Clantaani’s growing reputation with a hefty 50,000 credit bounty, enough to bring the Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett calling. Jango set out for Mos Gamos and proceeded to shoot his way through the entire gang, killing or capturing Longo’s subordinates according to their monetary worth. When Fett entered the podracer warehouse, Longo blew a cloud of t’bac smoke and coolly invited Jango to come in.
“I’ve heard of you, Fett,” said the Clantaani, expertly twirling his pistols. “You’re pretty good…you think you can outshoot me and my boys?”
“Makes it more difficult,” Jango allowed.
“You hear that, boys?” Longo chuckled. “He’s scared.”
Jango shook his head.
“Difficult to decide whether any of you live.”
Longo and the remnants of his gang opened fire on the lone Mandalorian, but for all his prowess, as the Belsallian seafarers say, “There’s always a bigger fish.” Fett brought the wounded Longo and the survivors of his gang to Jabba the Hutt. What became of him after is unknown, though most say the fastest blaster on Tatooine met his end not at the muzzle of a barrel, but under the axe of Jabba’s Gamorrean executioner Lomrokk. Weapons of choice: Matched, gold-plated DL-18 Blaster Pistols.
Amaiza Foxtrain — The tough, beautiful Amaiza Foxtrain was born to a sabacc dealer and a cocktail waitress on Ord Mantell. Orphaned at an early age by local gangsters who were in turn gunned down by the killer Gallandro, she and her twin sister eventually fell into performing a sultry, acrobatic dance routine in the Lady Fate Casino, frequented by the wookiee con artist Chalmun, from whom Amaiza learned to gamble and speak Shyriiwook. The Twi’lek Quatrain Pudundruh managed their act for a year before selling them as slaves to Kayso, the leader of The Black Hole Gang, a pirate band operating out of the Delphon system, to pay off his own debts. Early in their career with the pirates, in the midst of a shipjacking, Jodelle was tragically killed mishandling a blaster. This inspired Amaiza to learn to properly use weapons, and she proved a prodigy with a pistol, rising in the ranks of the pirates and eventually earning a death sentence in six systems. The Black Hole Gang unloaded their ill-gotten gains with various smugglers, and Amaiza became acquainted with Han Solo and Chewbacca, who years later reflected on her ability to blast the antennae off a ji-ant at 600 yards. Captain Kayso grew greedy, hoarding more and more of the gang’s spoils for himself, and backed by the crew, Amaiza led a mutiny and gunned him down, assuming the captaincy herself. Her leadership proved short however, as she was soon forced to flee the Delphon system by the arrival of the Star Destroyer Ripclaw, and her crew deserted. She drifted into the shadowport of Tun Aduban on the remote Outer Rim world of Aduba-3. As luck or fate would have it, Han Solo and Chewbacca had also taken refuge there from Jabba the Hutt, and the three were reunited. Solo had been approached by the representative of a rural village needing protection from a vicious swoop gang called the Cloud-Riders, led by a former professional racer turned bandit named Serji-X Arrogantus. Solo held auditions for a band of fighters to protect the villagers, and given her proven skill with a blaster, Amaiza was a shoe-in. Along with the Lepi Jaxxon, Jimm ‘Starkiller Kid’ Doshun, the would-be Jedi Don-Wan Kihotay, Hedji the Spiner, and FE-9Q, the so-called Star Hoppers Of Aduba-3 were born, and fought their way into legend, defending the village of Onacra from the Cloud-Riders and memorably, a Sithspawn Behemoth which emerged from a subterranean den. Afterwards, Amaiza and Jaxxon partnered up and headed for Nar Shaddaa. The pair became embroiled in a case of mistaken identity by a bounty hunter named Beilert Valance, who was tracking Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Jaxxon was captured by several of Valance’s associates and tortured for information. Amaiza arrived and shot the H’nemthe hunter called Dafi dead, warning the rest of the gang not to draw. When they went for their blasters, she cut down all but one, who fled in terror. Funny enough, Amaiza was immortalized not for this superior display of skill, but for her association with the Starhoppers, depicted in the classic but dubiously accurate holodocumentary Eight For Aduba-3, from Tri-Nebula Entertainment. Weapon of choice: Custom SC-4 Blaster Pistol.
Calo Nord — Although Calo Nord’s career is mostly remembered as a footnote to the history of Darth Revan, 4,000 years ago it was said of him that he had “killed more people than the Iridian plague.” More than a gunslinger, Nord was a pure psychopath, with a deep seated enjoyment of killing and a megalomaniacal sense of pride that would induce him to die rather than forfeit his reputation. Scant, surviving records tell us that he was sold into slavery by his own parents at an early age. This staggering betrayal so embittered and hardened Nord that after violently emancipating himself from his abusive owners at the age of 16, his first act as a free man was to return home and murder his parents. This ghastly string of killings made him a wanted man. Nord, an uneducated, self-taught survivalist, fled to the Outer Rim and systematically eliminated every bounty hunter that tracked him down, coldly observing their methods and adapting their skills like a murderous idiot savant. When the hunters’ guild officially deemed Nord too risky a quarry and cancelled his bounty, Nord tracked down the parties who had posted the reward and killed them too. Using his newfound skills, he made a decent living as a bounty hunter, taking assignments from both the Galactic Republic and the criminal organization The Exchange. He had a custom suit of battle armor built for him, based on Mandalorian Neo-Crusader design, and to insure its uniqueness (or perhaps to avoid paying), he shot the armorer upon its completion. Nord had little patience for anyone and had a tendency to begin counting rather than engage in idle banter. If someone stuck around to hear “three,” they never heard “four.” While on Taris in the last year of the Jedi Civil War, Nord killed the Rodian assassin Luugro and his partner, as well as three rowdy members of the Black Vulkars swoop gang in Javyar’s Cantina who harassed him about his diminutive height. Soon after, he was pulled into events far greater than him when Darth Revan, Carth Onasi, Bastila Shan, and the Mandalorian Canderous Ordo killed his employer Davik Kang, stole his ship, and left Nord buried under a pile of rubble in the midst of a Sith bombardment. Nord survived, and volunteered information and his own services to Darth Malak. The Dark Lord hired Nord and the gunman set out to avenge the unfathomable slight against his reputation. Nord tracked Revan and his companions to Tatooine. Wary of a second encounter, he assembled a gang of local toughs and some rented speeders and brashly confronted his quarry outside a Krayt dragon cave in the Eastern Dune Sea. His overconfidence and unwillingness to back down did not serve him in the end though, and he and his gang were cut down in the ensuing shootout. Weapon of choice: Modified Mandalorian Heavy Blasters.
Uul-Rha-Shan — Cold-blooded is a term that applies to the lethal Tiss’shar gunslinger Uul-Rha-Shan perhaps better than any other on this list. Some say only two types of Tiss’shar ever make it offworld, business executives and killers. Uul-Rha-Shan combined the most ruthless traits of both. A calculating opportunist with a deadly, accurate fast draw and a penchant for keeping a disruptor pistol on a power-loaded mechanism on his arm, Uul-Rha-Shan began his career smuggling weapons, and took to testing the merchandise on anybody in his way. When the supposedly unbeatable Gotal mercenary Terrlarn tried to bully his employer out of a load of Tagge blaster cartridges one night in Port Haven, Uul-Rha-Shan drew first and left him dead in the surf. Suddenly finding his services in demand and correctly surmising that each noteworthy killing increased his own net worth, Uul-Rha-Shan began using any trivial excuse to take out rival gunslingers. He killed the Socorran shooter Neena Garnet over the matter of a bar tab in the Black Sands Cantina, and famously disintegrated three of Ne’Chak’s security guards during his escape from Omze’s Incredible Traveling Spaceport after shooting the renowned Meelto the Rodian during a sabaac game. Too big a name now to remain confined to the gunrunning trade, but still business-minded, he headed to the Corporate Sector where wealthy executives hired infamous bodyguards to impress their colleagues and increase their own social standing. Uul earned an Authority cash voucher following around a minor official of Millennium Entertainment for a time. During a promotional screening of Millenium Holo’s popular Who Are You To Accuse Me? series for high level executives in Mondder on Etti IV, Uul used a stroke-of-luck terrorist attack by Duroon Rebels to maximize his marketability by personally saving the life of the most well-dressed executive in the room, the Assistant Advisory Undersecretary of Media, in full view of Galaxy News Service cameras. An instant celebrity, Uul was able to pick and choose his jobs after that, eventually settling for what he expected would be a cushy job as bodyguard of Mirkoveg Hirkin, the Viceprex of CorpSec Security. Having accompanied Mirkoveg and his wife to the inauguration of the Stars’ End prison facility on Mytus VII, Uul was present when Han Solo posed as Master Marksman, a trick shooter with the fictitious Madame Atuarre’s Roving Performers as part of an attempt to infiltrate the prison and affect a rescue of some of the political prisoners. Suspicious of the performers, Uul bandied Solo into a duel and got the smuggler to admit his true identity. Having heard of Solo’s exploits, Uul was prepared to add the Corellian to his resume, but the smuggler dodged Uul’s kill shot, which instead blew apart an ancillary circuit and allowed him to escape in the smoke and confusion. Enraged, Uul left his employer’s side and hunted for Solo through the chaos as the main tower of Stars’ End, having been sabotaged by Solo and his droid BLX-5, rode its own exploding main reactor into orbit. Uul finally found Solo and BLX-5 about to make their escape through the airlock to the Millenium Falcon. The droid perceived the Tiss’shar and shouting a warning, managed to take the blast intended for its master’s head. In that instant, Solo whirled and fired from the hip, putting a permanent ceiling on Uul-Rha Shan’s upward advancement. Weapon of choice: Custom MerSonn MSD-32 Disruptor Pistol.
Boba Fett – The greatness of some men can be measured by the quality of their enemies. Some, like Boba Fett, are measured by their dwindling number. The scion of Jango Fett was born in a cloning facility on Kamino, undiluted of his father’s Mandalorian pedigree. He was educated in combat both by his father and by seventy five of the greatest warriors of their era, Jango’s Cuy’val Dor, which included the fierce Mandalorian outlaw and gunslinger Vhonte Tervho. When he was ten years old, Fett witnessed the death of his father at the hands of Jedi Master Mace Windu on Geonosis, and developed a lifelong hatred for Jedi. Fett spent his youth amid scum and villainy, alternately being tutored and manipulated by hunters like Aurra Sing, and seeking vengeance against Windu for his father. Fett encountered Cad Bane on a few occasions, and it is possible he took a lesson from the Duros in employing cunning and hardware over strict reliance on his blaster. He collected his first bounties for Jabba the Hutt at the age of eleven, killing the formidable Noghri assassin Jhordvar on Tatooine, and at thirteen, he fought Mace Windu in an antechamber of the Supreme Chancellor’s office on Coruscant, but proved ultimately unable to kill the Jedi. After the fall of the Republic and the death of Windu, Fett took a few jobs hunting down Jedi for the Empire, but his thirst for revenge had been stymied. In the years that followed, Fett married Sintas Vel and served as a Journeyman Protector on his father’s homeworld of Concord Dawn. He was arrested and forced to resign after shooting down Lenovar, his superior officer, for assaulting his wife, and soon returned to bounty hunting. Boba Fett swiftly became the most sought after independent hunter in the galaxy, a favorite contract agent of Jabba the Hutt and Darth Vader. He owed ultimate allegiance to neither, instead following his own personal code of justice. His feud with the smuggler Han Solo began after Fett apprehended him for a bounty put out by the Besadii clan of Hutts. Solo managed to escape Fett with the help of Lando Calrissian, earning Fett’s lifelong ire. Fett captured the Jedi Rachi Sitra alive in space over Dathomir, disabling and boarding her ship, then beating out her Force enhanced speed and disarming her with a wrist rocket. When he did finally capture Han Solo on Bespin three years into the Galactic Civil War, he shot it out with a slew of the galaxy’s top hunters to deliver the carbon-encased Corellian to Jabba the Hutt. With hardly enough time to enjoy his substantial reward, he was knocked into the Pit of Carkoon by a revived, blinded Solo, yet managed to blast his way out of the Sarlaac that dwelt within. Emerging to find both his best clients deceased and the Empire in shambles, he laid low for a number of years, waiting to see how the galaxy played out. It’s possible that his daughter Ailyn Vel was responsible for some of the feats attributed to him at this time, but he definitely resurfaced to eliminate the up and coming hunter Jodo Kast for impersonating him. He renewed his personal vendetta against Han Solo, but failed to kill the wily smuggler on several occasions. When, in 23 ABY, he assumed the mantle of Mand’alor from Fenn Shysa, he decided the Corellian’s luck was no longer worth his trouble and forgot his feud, turning his attention to Galactic matters. However, upon learning of the death of Mara Jade Skywaker at the hand of Solo’s son Jacen, he sent Han Solo a set of chest plates and crushgaunts with the sentiment ‘With deepest sympathy.’ It is quite likely that his instruction of Jaina Solo was instrumental in her eventual killing of Darth Caedus, and so a clone, bounty hunter, and gunman swung the tide of Galactic history. Weapons Of choice: EE-3 Carbine Rifle/Sacros K-11 Pistol
TO BE CONTINUED
Edward M. Erdelac is the author seven novels, including the Judeocentric/Lovecraftian weird Western series Merkabah Rider and The Van Helsing Papers. His fiction appears in over a dozen anthologies, and he wrote the definitive story about boxing in a galaxy far, far away, as well as the backstories for the bounty hunter Bane Malar, the m-HYD hydromech, and Yoxgit. News of his latest projects can be found at http://emerdelac.wordpress.com.