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A saying among crime lords goes, "For every bounty hunter that can do the job, there are a thousand more who think they can." Rango Tel fell into the more numerous group. Hailing from the backwater world of Sernpidal, Tel spent the first years of his life as common street riff-raff. His fate changed, however, when as a young man drawn into a cantina brawl, he was able to inadvertently score a bounty on his drunken foe.

With the sizable bounty collected, Tel paid for off-planet passage, and used the rest to jumpstart what he thought was his calling: his new bounty hunting career. The wide-eyed Tel met up with a crooked junk dealer who offered to sell him the equipment he needed to get started. With no research and nothing to go off of but childhood tales, Tel requested the same sort of armor worn by the legendary Mandalorians. Correctly surmising the kid was a simpleton, the dealer passed off second-rate vac-exposure body armor as authentic Mandalorian, and the innocent youth gladly purchased it. Tel soon earned the disparaging nickname "Tank Head" in the under world circles; he was oblivious to its pejorative origins.

Tel then contacted a local crime lord for work. The gangster had just had his rival, the Fluggrian kingpin Borzu Nale, assassinated by the hit man Aldar Beedo. However, he offered Tel to help him get his bounty hunting career started by eliminating Nale's son, Kam, so he couldn't resume his father's work. Tel spent months on this first assignment, tracking down Nale through a score of aliases and fronts. He came to learn that Nale had no desire to take his father's place as a crime lord.

Nevertheless, Tel eventually caught up to Nale at the Boonta Eve Podrace on Tatooine, where he was undercover as Elan Mak. With visions of credits and closure in his head, Tel cornered Mak in a back alley. Unfortunately for Rango Tel, his barely-developed skills and substandard armor proved no match for Mak's heavy blaster pistol, and it was there Tel's bounty hunting career came to an untimely end.