Hyperspace Beacon: Blaster at my side

Hey, kids, the name's Han Solo. I've been asked to step in here because I know a thing or two about smuggling. I know many of you are lookin' to jump into this line of work, and I'm going to tell you right now: it ain't gonna be easy. You gotta live by your guts, kids. You hav'ta be smooth, and you can't let crazy green Rodians get under your skin. In fact, if a Rodian does come lookin' for you, I suggest you shoot him first. It'll save you some trouble in the long run, but don't forget to pay for the mess.

Maybe I should start with some of the greatest smugglers out there. That should help detour you from the insanity of this profession. Although none of 'em is as good as I am, Lando Calrissian, Dash Rendar, and even an old smuggler named Hylo Visz made their marks on history. Their lives were wrought with risky maneuvers, near-misses, and some damned good luck. So I guess if you think you've got what it takes, keep reading -- I'll meet you after the break.

[Thank you to Lois van Baarle for letting us use her artwork for the main banner. You can see more of her work at Loish.net.]


It seems there is no smooth talkin' you outta this one, so I guess I'll talk about myself first. I was born on Corellia; most of the best smugglers and freighter pilots are. And I happen to be the best of both. Garris Shrike raised me and taught me how to pilot a freighter. The Trader's Luck, yeah, that was that name of his ship when I was a kid. I heard it's been recommissioned as a troop transport for the Alliance now. At any rate, Shrike was a hard man to work for, so I had to slip outta there when I was old enough to make my own way. Unfortunately for the old man, he decided to hunt me down when the Besadii Hutts put a bounty on my head. Shrike ended up getting himself shot by a competing bounty hunter. I kinda feel sorry for the guy. Hey, he may have been cruel, but he did teach me everything I know.

I guess the next great moment in my career was meeting Chewbacca. I had just made lieutenant as a TIE Fighter pilot and was set up under the command of Nyklas. I had just procured some Wookiee slaves from Trandoshan trader Ssoh's transport ship. Hey, I didn't like it either, but at least the Wookiees were alive and not skinned like Nyklas had originally wanted. A Wookiee helped raise me; I wasn't about to turn my back on them. Well, that vow ended up destroying my whole military career. My memory's a little fuzzy on the details, but what I do know is Nyklas drew his blaster to shoot Chewbacca, and I had to stop him. After our escape, Chewbacca swore a life debt to me, y'know, for saving his life. Now he travels with me taking odd jobs here and there in the Millennium Falcon.


What? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that did the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs! I know, eighteen parsecs is the fastest route through the Maw, but I'm tellin' ya, as a smuggler you just gotta be a confident pilot, willing to take risks. Take my friend Dash Rendar. Yeah, he's a scoundrel, but he can fly. He thinks he flies better than I do, even, but he's yet to prove it. OK, so he did fly a speeder in the Battle of Hoth. Taking down an AT-AT is not an easy thing to do in a glorified crop-duster, but he did it. Not sure exactly how, though -- even Luke Skywalker couldn't do that.

It's interesting -- I heard the Alliance tracked down Boba Fett in the Zhar system when I was frozen in carbonite. During the mission, Dash seemed to challenge the Millennium Falcon. To avoid detection from the Imperial sensors at the shipyards where Fett's ship was docked, Dash took his YT-2400 freighter, the Outrider, to just a meter or two above the treeline -- a risky maneuver that I hear Lando himself was too squeamish to try.


Yeah, I should tell you a bit about Lando. Lando Calrissian. Talk about risks! This guy took some huge gambles. He didn't always win them. In fact, there were some major gambles that ended up blasting him in the backside. But he always seems to be able to turn a loss into a win. Take him losing the Millennium Falcon to me a few years back. As losses go, I would consider that a pretty big one. The fastest ship in the galaxy lost in a game of sabacc! But that's what he is: a player. You can see it in his eyes. They are always judging, examining, taunting, and looking for a weakness. And just when you think you're safe, that's when he hits you.

So there he was on Bespin after losing the Falcon in the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament, and what did he do? He wound up winning the whole mining station in an all-or-nothing hand against the Baron Administrator himself. A good smuggler's gotta know when to play his cards. Lando knew -- do you?


Look, it's fine. Not everyone has what it takes. Not everyone has the mind of Hylo Visz. What? And you call yourself a smuggler. Well, Hylo Visz is a legend among opportunistic entrepreneurs like myself. She single-handedly united all the smugglers to take down a Mandalorian blockade a few thousand years ago.

As the story goes, the Mandalorians had blockaded the Hydian Way hyperspace route with their whole armada, essentially cutting off the whole Core from Outer Rim supplies. As you know, the Core is mostly industrial, so food and raw materials have to be imported. The price of these basic needs sky-rocketed. Hylo Visz saw an ingenious way to make a Hutt-load of cash, and she devised a plan to take down the blockade. The legend has it that she distracted the Mandalorians with freighters full of Outer Rim goods, then attacked with a fleet of small fighters pushing the mighty Mandalorians out of the Hydian Way and allowing the supplies to pass safely on to the Core -- and landing Visz more credits than anyone would ever need. And to top it off, they say she didn't even show up to her own medal ceremony. Just like a true smuggler, she got what she wanted, then moved on to the next game.

Speaking of which, I have to move on myself. I hope this has been educational for you, kids. Maybe now you know the greatest stories in all of history are smuggler stories. I'm still not sure you've got what it takes. But if you're crazy enough to try, always find cover when in a firefight, even if you have to make your own, and never let anyone tell you the odds. Ol'val, min dul'skal, ahn guld domina.

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This article was originally published on Massively.