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Jack T. Ladd is an intergalactic thief and con artist wanted by the Space Police and Federation Police for hundreds of felonies and thousands of misdemeanors and by the Interstellar Revenue Decimation Service for millions of untaxed credits. Don't ask him what the "T" in his name stands for because you won't get an answer, and a kick in the coconuts often offends. Actually, his father wanted to call him Rudolf Rufus Rupert Rustle Ladd, having been inspired to open up an intergalactic first name dictionary and christen his son with every name on the first page his chubby fingers stopped at.

Jack grew from a childhood of stealing eggs to an adulthood of stealing anything, a process he refers to as "the clandestine procurement of valuable items", learning along the way to ignore his intuition because it's about as accurate as a watch with a broken mechanism, no hands and no numerals. His life is spent on the run, and he sometimes wakes up sweating from dreams that someone he doesn't know will try to kill him for something he didn't do in a place he's never visited.

On planet Bagapoo he once made the mistake of trying to sell an Athena poster to the same art dealer he'd stolen it from.  The art dealer not only recognized the poster but also remembered when it was stolen, the police interview which followed, the subequent rise in his insurance premiums, and where he'd left his machete. Fortunately for Jack the art dealer had a wooden leg and stumbled into a storm drain, falling on the machete and allowing him to escape to the nearest spaceport. Fortunately for the art dealer, he'd been wearing chain mail undergarments.

While near the Indaway system, Ladd's ship was attacked by space pirates and nearly destroyed, but they fled at the sight of something even worse. He was captured by the I.R.D.S., frisked by Klepto and given a twenty-eight day ultimatum to pay his back taxes. Broke, he landed on Tayte because it was the nearest planet (technically a moon, but let's not confuse him) with a bar, where he tried to earn money by stealing items for local crime boss Git Savage - the egg of a Giant Kahoula Bird, a sculpture by Renato Spangle, and bonds for Quargian Plenocredits. However, after the items were procured, Git's thugs betrayed him to the local police and he was sent to Alkaseltz Prison.

With the help of a probe sent by the Federation League of Planets, Ladd escaped the prison along with Narm N'Palm who had been in the next cell. The Federation enlisted him to steal a device called the Transatron, which they told him was a doomsday weapon capable of destroying entire star systems, from the P'Pau'D'P'Pau regime on planet Shmul. Ladd and N'Palm traveled there on a luxury cruise liner where, with the help of a stolen credit card and passport from fellow passenger Laszlo Quinn, Ladd made himself stoned drunk, threw up all over the place and got into a fight with anyone who looked remotely like a Taxman.

Once on the planet, Ladd enlisted the aid of a deposed Prince of the Royal Family and a scientist named Eugene Cringe, who enabled him to sneak into P'Pau'D'P'Pau's laboratory disguised as a guard. In exchange he was supposed to deliver a love note from Cringe to the despot's beautiful daughter, Ruthie, but when face to face with her he shredded the note and scored with her himself instead. This was just as well considering that Cringe betrayed him to the guards so that he was captured moments after sneaking into the lab. N'Palm alerted Ruthie, who rescued him from torture and probable execution and arranged for him and N'Palm to travel to the SkyCity in a crate of her belongings, where they would find the Transatron.