- "This is Quelev Tapper for Karrde. We've gotten the initial payment for this lot and you've got fifty million credits still in your account. In another month we should have another thirty percent of your order ready."
- ―Quelev Tapper, to Wedge Antilles
Quelev Tapper was a Human male smuggler who operated during the Galactic Civil War. Formerly the head of his own organization, Tapper agreed to merge with fellow smuggler Talon Karrde's smuggling group after Imperial forces leveled his headquarters and destroyed three quarters of his operation. Tapper became Karrde's second-in-command and most trusted lieutenant, and his conservative personality countered Karrde's more flamboyant nature. The pair would often personally investigate new business opportunities.
In 6 ABY, Tapper accompanied Karrde to the planet Kaal to investigate the rumor that Emperor Palpatine's personal yacht, the Emperor's Shadow, had crash-landed in the world's oceans. Due to Imperial intervention, Tapper was forced to detonate the wreck to save Karrde, a New Republic delegation, and Kaal's ruler, Tirgee Benyalle. In 7 ABY, a deal was struck between Karrde and former smuggler Booster Terrik to supply ex–New Republic pilots Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron with munitions during their war against Ysanne Isard, who had taken control of the Bacta Cartels on Thyferra. Tapper commanded the convoy that traveled to the Graveyard in the Alderaan system to transfer the equipment and was caught in a battle between the Rogues and forces loyal to Isard. In 8 ABY, Tapper accompanied Karrde to Varonat to investigate the operations of the Krish crime lord Gamgalon. While working undercover, the pair were discovered by Gamgalon and his Krish underlings, who planned to kill them. Tapper tried to escape, but was killed during the attempt. Karrde was rescued by former Emperor's Hand, Mara Jade, who was posing as a hyperdrive mechanic named Celina Marniss.
- "As for this asteroid, Tapper found it, but before he could exploit it he ran into some Imperial problems. After our groups merged, he brought it to my attention. We're using it until we find something more suitable."
- ―Talon Karrde explains the origin of his asteroid base to Booster Terrik
Quelev Tapper, a Human male, led a smuggling organization that operated during the Galactic Civil War. Following the Battle of Endor of 4 ABY, Tapper's group profited immensely from the subsequent collapse of the Galactic Empire. However, by 6 ABY, his operations were firmly within Imperial-held territory, and a governor learned the location of Tapper's headquarters. An Imperial force was sent to destroy the smuggler's base. Smuggler chief Talon Karrde was in the area conducting business, and came to Tapper's aid. Tapper and a quarter of his organization survived the Imperial assault; Tapper and Karrde agreed to a merger, and Tapper folded his organization into Karrde's operation. In turn, Tapper became Karrde's second-in-command and most trusted lieutenant, and the two would often check out potential business ventures together.
Adventures on Kaal
During 6 ABY, Karrde heard a rumor that a ship belonging to Emperor Palpatine himself, the Emperor's Shadow, had crash-landed on the planet Kaal in the Yushan sector. The rumor also said that the ship was equipped with a cloaking device. Karrde and Tapper traveled to Kaal to investigate; while Karrde posed as Syndic Pandis Hart, chief purchasing agent of the Sif-Uwana Council, Tapper purchased a submersible craft from a local dealer and began searching for the yacht near the Unis Islands. Karrde, posing as Hart, entered into negotiations with Tirgee Benyalle, the ruler of Kaal. Benyalle was selling the rights to buy and harvest food from Kaal, and had attracted delegations from the Galactic Empire, the New Republic, and Warlord Moff Utoxx Prentioch. While the other three were negotiating for the full rights to Kaal's food production, Karrde only planned to request that the Sif-Uwana Council be allowed to conduct its own harvesting operation in a specific area. Tapper's role was to locate the wreck of the yacht, allowing Karrde to define an area for the deal so that he could recover the vessel in secret.
Tapper's search bore fruit, and he located the yacht submerged near the Unis Islands and relayed its location to Karrde. Tapper remained on station while Karrde negotiated with Benyalle. Shortly after, Karrde communicated with Tapper, and told him to rig the ship to blow. Tapper complied, setting charges throughout the wreck. The reason for Karrde's order soon became clear; the negotiations had fallen apart when Imperial Admiral Uther Kermen had declared his intention to take the planet and its resources by force. The delegations were meeting aboard Tirgee Benyalle's luxury sail barge, touring the current harvesting operations, when Kermen made his move. Over the course of several weeks, Kermen had positioned his own agents amongst the sail barge's crew, and they attempted to take control of the vessel at his signal. Karrde had allied himself with the New Republic delegation, who had saved Benyalle from Kermen's attack. The New Republic took control of the sail barge, and Karrde steered them toward the Unis Islands and parked them above the crashed yacht. Tapper surfaced the yacht, taking on Karrde, Benyalle, the New Republic delegation, and the remaining loyal members of the sail barge's crew. The submersible sped away from the sail barge as the charges that Tapper had planted on the yacht detonated, destroying the wreck and the sail barge above. With his reasons for being on Kaal eliminated, Karrde pulled out of negotiations with Benyalle and allowed the New Republic to cut a deal with her.
Arming the Rogues
- "Perhaps he wants Another Chance or the Death Star's womb. I mean, as long as your aim is to break the Bacta Cartel, you might as well go in for other things you can't get."
- ―Quelev Tapper, to Booster Terrik, on Wedge Antilles' chances of breaking the Bacta Cartel
Prior to Tapper's Imperial troubles, he had learned the location of a hollowed-out asteroid that had been mostly stripped of ore, but the assault on his organization had occurred before he had a chance to exploit his find. Once he had joined Karrde, he informed the latter about the asteroid, and Karrde set up a temporary base within its confines. In 7 ABY, Karrde and Tapper met with Booster Terrik, a former smuggler who was operating on behalf of Rogue Squadron leader Wedge Antilles. Antilles, along with the rest of Rogue Squadron, had resigned his commission in the military following the news that the New Republic would not interfere when Ysanne Isard—formerly in command of the Imperial forces based from the galactic capital, Coruscant—took control of the planet Thyferra and its Bacta Cartels. Cut off from official New Republic support, Antilles and the Rogues fought a private war against Isard, and needed supplies. Terrik, a long-time family friend of Antilles', acted as a middle-man in procuring proton torpedoes, concussion missiles, and their respective sensor packages and launchers. A deal was struck wherein Karrde would supply the required equipment in exchange for bacta that Rogue Squadron had "liberated" from convoys controlled by Isard.
Karrde appointed one of his associates, Melina Carniss, to liaise with Terrik; Carniss was a former employee of the crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and Tapper was smitten with the woman. As the conversation came to a close, Tapper made an off-hand comment regarding attempting to locate the legendary Alderaanian armory ship Another Chance for Antilles, or the shipyard that had constructed the Death Star battlestation, since finding either seemed as likely as destroying the Bacta Cartel with a handful of snubfighters and freighters. Terrik pointed out that the Rebel Alliance had, in fact, recovered the Another Chance prior to the Battle of Hoth, and not to bet against Antilles. Tapper apologized, meaning no offense.
As part of a regular delivery of equipment, Tapper commanded one of Karrde's freighters, the Starry Ice, and led a convoy of a half-dozen ships to rendezvous with Rogue Squadron and their allies to transfer munitions. The meeting was set to take place near the Graveyard in the Alderaan system; Rogue Squadron and their Twi'lek and Gand allies were covering a dozen freighters under Booster Terrik's command, led by the Pulsar Skate. As the transfer was about to begin, Isard's Immobilizer 418 cruiser Aggregator and Victory-class Star Destroyer Corrupter decanted from hyperspace. As the freighters scattered, Antilles led the starfighters against the Imperial force. The resulting battle ended in the destruction of the Corrupter, and the retreat of the Aggregator. Antilles called for the surrender of the surviving TIE/LN starfighters and the various escape pods from the Corrupter, which was accepted. Antilles arranged with Tapper to recover the escape pods and extract any ransom he deemed fit from the survivors. Tapper was also interested in acquiring the surrendered TIE fighters, but Antilles refused to hand them over, classifying them as prisoners of war. Tapper relented, noting that Antilles would soon be buying spare parts for the captured starfighters from Karrde.
Antilles was worried that increasing security on Karrde's deliveries to them in the wake of the attack in the Alderaan graveyard would cause him to cancel the arrangement, but Terrik was sure that Tapper would be able to convince Karrde that they remained trustworthy. It was later discovered that the location of the meeting had been sold to Isard by Melina Carniss. Karrde and Terrik arranged for Carniss to leak the location of the Rogue's base at Yag'Dhul, thereby precipitating the final battle in the Bacta War that brought down Isard.
Hunting on Varonat
- "What a fine, civilized-looking place this is. You sure we didn't overshoot and land in someone's weed dump?"
"No, this is it. The Great Jungle of Varonat. Home of a handful of third-rate trading depots and a few thousand colonists who haven't the brains to pick up and go elsewhere."
"And an ugly Krish named Gamgalon. I don't know, Karrde. I still think we should have brought in the Wild Karrde and Starry Ice and had some decent firepower behind us. We're kind of like sitting mynocks here."
- ―Quelev Tapper and Talon Karrde discuss the pleasures of Varonat
A year later, Tapper accompanied Karrde to the planet Varonat, located on the Ison Corridor, aboard the yacht Uwana Buyer. Karrde had heard that a Krish, Gamgalon, was using Morodin-hunting safaris as a cover for illegal activities. Curious as to the nature of the business and whether or not it was something on which Karrde could cut himself in, he again posed as Syndic Pandis Hart, while Tapper took on the role of Captain Seoul, his pilot. Feigning hyperdrive trouble, the Uwana Buyer landed on Varonat, in the settlement of Tropis-on-Varonat. There, the pair enlisted the services of a hyperdrive mechanic to repair the drive on the Uwana Buyer—which had been expertly gimmicked by one of Karrde's associates, Chin—and allowed Gamgalon's come-up flector, Fleck, to "convince" them that they should join one of Gamgalon's safaris. Karrde agreed, and Tapper, playing the role of hired employee, made a case that he should be allowed to join Karrde on the hunt. Paying 17,000 credits to join the safari, Tapper and Karrde availed themselves of the services of Great Jungle Outfitters, a shop that catered to supplying the safari hunters with every need.
Returning to the Uwana Buyer, Tapper commented that he hoped that their shopping trip had given Gamgalon's people enough time to search the ship to determine if they were a threat or not. Investigating a noise from the aft section of the ship, Tapper and Karrde found a young woman working on the hyperdrive. She introduced herself as Celina Marniss; her knowledge about the cause of their hyperdrive failure, along with her general attitude and demeanor, impressed Tapper and Karrde. In addition, her name gave them cause to think there was more to her than met the eye. They had previously known a "Melina Carniss," and this name of "Celina Marniss" was awfully coincidental. After a night's sleep, Tapper and Karrde joined the safari expedition. Led by a Krish named Falmal, the group consisted of two other guides—the Human Buzzy and the Rodian Jombo—and four other hunters—two Duros by the names of Hav and Jivis; a Thennqora called Tamish; and Cob-caree, a Saffa. Loading into Aratech Arrow-17 airspeeders, Tapper and Karrde were accompanied by Falmal as the party headed for a base camp in the jungle. From there, the expedition hiked through the jungle for several hours to make camp near to the Morodin hunting area. During a rest break, one of the hunters, Tamish, noticed that a Morodin had passed through the area at some point as a patch of ground had been discolored by the slime trail produced by Morodins. Tapper and Karrde made note of a series of plants growing neatly along the slime mark, as well as a piece of metal embedded in the ground that Tapper tentatively identified as a transpond marker. Before they could investigate further, Falmal told them that the plants were non-native Yagaran aleudrupe plants that were the result of careless hunters dropping the seeds of aleudrupe berries during a hunt, then briskly moved them on.
Several hours later, after erecting their camp, Tapper and Karrde discussed their fellow hunters and came to conclusion that they were not fellow smugglers in disguise as they were, tromping through the jungle for clandestine meetings with Gamgalon, but rather wealthy, bored beings looking for adventure. Initially, Karrde had been of the opinion that the safaris were merely a way for Gamgalon to conduct clandestine meetings away from prying eyes. Karrde then posited the idea that they could have been legitimate businessbeings with whom Gamgalon wanted to deal, rather than criminals, but Tapper pointed out that confidential meetings could be held in other places with no trouble. As they started to discuss the transpond marker and whether or not it was part of a larger sensor array, a low growl, distinctive of the Morodin, was heard from the jungle near them. Falmal ordered the party to split into the same groups that had travelled together on the airspeeders, so Tapper and Karrde remained with the Krish. Following him into the jungle, they followed the Morodin slime trails and encountered one of the creatures. Falmal urged Karrde to shoot it, but Karrde hesitated because the beast remained still, and he advised Tapper to hold fire as well. From the side, Tamish and Cob-caree, accompanied by Jombo, came out of the forest and killed the creature.
Over the next two hours, pilots and airspeeders shuttled meat and trophies from the kill back to base camp. Tapper helped the process, doing both his and Karrde's share of the work, while Karrde retreated from the group and isolated himself with a melodium and began to fiddle with the comm-relay hidden inside the device in an attempt to locate Gamgalon's transpond markers. Tapper joined his boss when the work was done, commenting that many in the camp thought Karrde was sulking. Karrde told Tapper what he had been doing, and led him into the jungle. Immediately, the comm-relay picked up a signal, which they followed to the site of the recent Morodin kill, discovering that the earth around the slime trail had been freshly cultivated. Hearing a noise from the direction of the camp, they attempted to take the long way back, but ended up deeper in the jungle. On a hunch, Tapper suggested heading toward a ridge that overlooked a depression that he remembered seeing on a map of the area. Reaching the ridge, they discovered a valley and a herd of fifty Morodins. Observing them for a short while, Tapper and Karrde came to the conclusion that the beasts were, in fact, a sentient species.
Gamgalon and a group of Krish discovered Tapper and Karrde, having been tipped off by Falmal's suspicions about the pair. Gamgalon proceeded to explain his operation to Tapper and Karrde; the Morodin slime initiated certain chemical changes in the pips of aleudrupe berries that, when combined with rethan-K and promhassic triaxli, created a blaster gas formulation as powerful as spin-sealed tibanna. All three components were also perfectly legal to transport and would not arouse the suspicions of customs officials. The safaris were merely a way of covering the planting and harvesting of the berries, and Gamgalon bribed the local Imperial governor to cover the fact that he was hunting a sentient species. Gamgalon could allow no word of his operation to be leaked, although Karrde attempted to reach an agreement with him. Tapper grabbed the blaster rifle out of the hands of one of the Krish, jammed it into the guard's torso, then dove for the cover of a tree. Bringing the rifle to bear on Gamgalon and Falmal, Tapper was struck by a pair of blaster bolts fired by another Krish concealed along the ridge. With a gasp, Tapper died. Karrde was subsequently rescued by Celina Marniss, who distracted Gamgalon and Falmal with recorded Morodin growls and then killed the pair. As Karrde and Marniss left the planet on the Uwana Buyer, Karrde revealed his true identity to her. Marniss did the same, introducing herself as Mara Jade.
Personality and traits
- "Good point, but I suspect Quelev Tapper can convince Karrde that we're trustworthy."
- ―Wedge Antilles
Quelev Tapper was a light-skinned male, with brown hair and green eyes. Slender and handsome, he was a physically imposing individual. He maintained a serious demeanor and was always business-like. A naturally suspicious man, he was the perfect counter to Talon Karrde's polite grace and often assumed the role of "Hypothetical Hrongar" when Karrde outlined his more elaborate ideas. Tapper had infrequent hunches that usually turned out to be worth following up, and Karrde soon learned to trust his associate's instincts. Like Karrde, he shared the opinion that idealists caused a lot of trouble in the galaxy. Being a more cautious individual, Tapper preferred to have substantial backup available when entering an unknown situation.
Tapper knew how to handle a blaster and usually armed himself with a blaster pistol. He was also skilled in melee and unarmed combat, and carried a knife. He was a skilled pick pocket, and could be stealthy when he needed to be. Tapper had knowledge of alien species and languages, planetary systems, bureaucracies, and businesses. He could pilot small vessels and navigate them through hyperspace, and was trained to operate the weapons and shields aboard such vessels. He could also repair the ships he was trained to pilot. Tapper could also drive repulsorlift vehicles and submersibles, and operate communications, security and sensor equipment. He also had some familiarity with explosives. A savvy businessman, Tapper was adept at brokering deals by either persuasion or by conning them, and was well aware of the value of the items in which he dealt. He carried a comlink with him at all times.
Behind the scenes
Quelev Tapper first appeared in First Contact in 1994, a short story written by Timothy Zahn for the first issue of the Star Wars Adventure Journal. Supplementary game information in the roleplaying section accompanying the story was contributed by Peter M. Schweighofer, and the image of Tapper was provided by Mike Vilardi. First Contact was subsequently reprinted in Tales from the Empire and on Hyperspace. When the story was reprinted on Hyperspace, the original black-and-white image of Tapper was colorized. Tapper later appeared in The Kaal Connection in 1995, which was written by Schweighofer with Zahn. The Kaal Connection was later reprinted in Classic Adventures: Volume Four - The Best of the Journal. Tapper's only other appearance was in X-Wing: The Bacta War, written by Michael A. Stackpole and published in 1997.
Tapper has since been mentioned in other articles and reference works, usually when describing Talon Karrde's or Mara Jade's histories. However, in many cases, the sources disagree with the original source over certain facts. In 1995's The Essential Guide to Characters, Tapper is referred to as "Tapper Quelev," and the work states that Tapper's organization joined Karrde's shortly after the Battle of Endor, and that Tapper worked with Karrde for four years before his death, contradicting First Contact's assertion that Tapper had been with Karrde for only two years. In The Smuggler's Alliance article in Star Wars Gamer 3 published in 2001, it states Tapper was killed on "Tropis-on-Varonat," rather than simply "Varonat." The former was the name of a settlement on the planet. In The New Essential Guide to Characters, released in 2002, Tapper is mentioned in Karrde's entry. Yet the entry places the merging of Karrde's and Tapper's organizations at four years after the Battle of Endor, which equates to 8 ABY. As The Kaal Connection—the events of which are also referenced in Karrde's article—shows, Tapper was working with Karrde by 6 ABY, two years earlier. Karrde's entry also places Tapper's death at six and a half years after Endor, in 10 ABY. As the Thrawn Crisis depicted in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy was placed at five years after the Battle of Endor, and Tapper was dead before then as Mara Jade was referenced as serving with Karrde's organization for five and half months by the opening of the first book in the trilogy, Heir to the Empire, these references are incorrect.
Tapper is mentioned twice in The Official Star Wars Fact File. Firstly, in Mara Jade Skywalker's entry in The Official Star Wars Fact File 27, he is simply referred to as a "safari hunter." The entry goes on to state that Jade was living on the planet "Tropis" at the time, rather than Varonat, and that she rescued both Talon Karrde and his companion, when, in fact, Tapper died on the planet. In Talon Karrde's entry in The Official Star Wars Fact File 50, Tapper is constantly referred to as "Tapper Quelev." It also states that Tapper's organization merged with Karrde's four years prior to his death after Karrde rescued him shortly after the Battle of Endor, instead of the two years stated in First Contact.
- "The Kaal Connection"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 7
- X-Wing: The Bacta War
- "First Contact"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 1 (First appearance)
- "First Contact"—Tales from the Empire
- The Essential Guide to Characters
- "From the Files of Corellia Antilles"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 14
- Star Wars Encyclopedia (Under Karrde, Talon)
- The Smuggler's Alliance"—Star Wars Gamer 3 "
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 27 (MAR 3, Mara Jade Skywalker) (Indirect mention only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 50 (KAR 2, Talon Karrde)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
Notes and references
- The Essential Atlas establishes a 12 month year, replacing the old 10 month year format established by West End Games. Grand Admiral Thrawn's raid on Obroa-skai from Heir to the Empire is dated at 44:4:15, and concurrently, Talon Karrde mentions that Mara Jade has been with his organization for five-and-half months. First Contact establishes that Tapper died on Varonat during the same encounter that saw Jade recruited by Karrde. Subtracting this figure from the date given for Obroa-skai yields a date of 43:11.
- "First Contact"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 1
- When First Contact was reprinted on Hyperspace, the existing black and white image of Tapper by Mike Vilardi used in Star Wars Adventure Journal 1 was colored.
- "The Kaal Connection"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 7
- X-Wing: The Bacta War
- The New Essential Guide to Characters