Acklays (pronounced /Ăk'-lā/) were non-sentient carnivores native to Vendaxa. Acklays had sharp claws and thick skin, and averaged 3.05 meters tall. Due to these attributes, as well as the species' ferocity, acklays were often exported from Vendaxa to be used in gladiatorial combat. The creatures could be found on Geonosis, where they were commonly brought in to fight other creatures—and sentients—in the Petranaki arena. An acklay was used in the attempted execution of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in 22 BBY, but was killed by Kenobi. In addition to Geonosis, the creatures could be also found on worlds such as Lehon and Felucia.
Biology and appearance
The acklay was a three-eyed, amphibious, non-sentient, crustacean native to Vendaxa. Though acklays lived underwater, they could go on land to hunt, which they frequently did, as the lemnai, a creature that lived on the plains of Vendaxa, was their main source of food. As they resided in the oceans of Vendaxa, their eyes enabled them to see in darkness, although they were near-sighted. Despite their crustacean-like nature, acklays also had characteristics possessed by reptiles, such as their powerful jaws filled with sharp teeth. The acklay had a tough, leathery skin that ranged in color from green to brown, another trait from its reptilian heritage. Its belly was more vulnerable than other parts of its body, as the flesh covering it was not as tough as it was elsewhere. Acklays had a bony crest around their neck, used for both intimidation and protection.
These creatures had small stomachs, but were capable of expanding them when necessary. They had a high metabolism, which gave them substantial amounts of energy, but also caused them to starve quickly. Acklays were aggressive creatures, making them favorites in gladiatorial combat.
Each acklay had six deadly claws, used for both pinning an opponent in combat or slicing them. Their limbs were long, allowing them to strike at enemies from a distance. While their claws—actually fingertips covered by hardened skin—themselves had no feeling, hairs on their bodies allowed the creatures the sensation of feeling. These cilia also enabled an acklay to sense the neuro-electric energy of other life-forms. The acklay's exoskeleton was strong enough to be used by some cultures as chitinous personal body armor. Although not high tech, it was occasionally used as a trophy item.
Like some reptilian species, acklays had a bony neck plate that they displayed to intimidate opponents. This also protected the acklay from overhead neck attacks. In addition, acklays could use this plate as a type of weapon, by bucking and weaving their heads to and fro to strike an opponent.
Acklays were native to Vendaxa, where they were one of the main predators. However, acklays were transported to other planets, most notably the Outer Rim world of Geonosis, where they were a common fixture in gladiator arenas.
During the Second Imperial Civil War, a type of aquatic vehicle called the Acklay Battle Fortress was used by Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire. In 137 ABY, Cade Skywalker and his companions encountered an acklay on Vendaxa, following Marasiah Fel's escape from Socorro. The acklay pursued its prey through a crash site, but was ultimately killed when Jedi Wolf Sazen and Shado Vao joined the fight, plunging their lightsabers through the acklay's chest.
Acklays in the galaxy
Acklays were prized by collectors of brutal exotica. The Geonosians—who traded droids and machinery for acklays—also took to breeding them, and the acklays soon found their way into the ecosystem of the barren planet, quickly carving out a niche for themselves. In some instances, acklays even destroyed entire hives by sneaking in through the lower tunnels and feasting on worker drones. The acklay also became the dominant predator of the stagnant Ebon Sea area, as it had only one predator on Geonosis: the merdeth. Due to chemical contamination in the water, a population of amphibious mutant acklays developed in Golbah's Pit. They had glossy black skin and were larger, stronger and more heavily armored than their cousins. They could also breathe underwater when they hunted in the Ebon Sea.
Several of the creatures were brought to fight in the Geonosian arenas, with two acklays being held in the Petranaki arena and used in gladiator matches. The Geonosian gladiator Acklay Chopper became fight manager of the arena after he fought and killed an acklay in it. Prior to the onset of the Clone Wars, one of the acklays was unleashed upon Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, his Padawan Anakin Skywalker and Senator Padmé Amidala, who had been convicted of espionage and sentenced for execution. The acklay attempted to kill Kenobi, though the Jedi was able to free himself by timing the creature's attack so its claws broke the chain holding him to a pillar. After a Jedi task force intervened to rescue the trio, Kenobi obtained a lightsaber and used it to kill the beast. The fallen acklay's mate survived in their holding pen.
During the Clone Wars, an acklay on Burnout, a space station in the Thaereian system, made appearances in an arena there, where prisoners of the Thaereian military would be fed to it, while spectators watched from viewscreens. The Trandoshan Nim'Ri was one such prisoner, and he was given a vibro-axe to fight the creature with. However, it pushed the axe out of his hands and killed him, much to the delight of the crowd. A short time later, a group of prisoners from the Cularin system were put in the arena with it. However, several agents working for the Cularin Militia entered the arena and fought the creature, while rescuing the prisoners. The slaver Phylus Mon, who favored huge, monstrous beasts, dealt with acklays as well.
Acklays were also exported to the world of Felucia. During the Clone Wars, the 501st Legion encountered acklays trying to destroy an All Terrain Tactical Enforcer during the Battle of Felucia. The clone troopers were initially overcome by the creatures, but were able to kill all of them. During the rule of the Galactic Empire, a number of acklays were owned by Molpol's Traveling Circus. Around this time, a ride called the Geonosis Arena Acklay-Rider was in operation at Aucellis Park, an entertainment center located on the moon Keriba VI. At least one acklay was believed to be present in the rumored Geonosian Bio-Lab on Yavin 4. The Hutt Borvo also kept one in the dungeon beneath his hidden base near Moenia, on Naboo. An engineered acklay was kept inside a secret laboratory that was operated by Doctor Maldien on the planet Corellia. However, around 1 ABY, the creature escaped and killed Jenson, the facility's lead creature handler. The Imperial officer Ozzik Sturn, who enjoyed hunting, kept an acklay head as a trophy by 2 BBY. Acklays could also be found on the planet Lehon, located in the Unknown Regions.
Behind the scenes
- "I pictured the acklay as the embodiment of chaos."
- ―Robert E. Barnes
The acklay first appeared in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, which was released a month prior to the film's theatrical debut. It has since appeared in a number of other works, including reference guides.
The design of the acklay originated when George Lucas requested the creation of an arena creature sharing the characteristics of praying mantises and Velociraptors. Later refinements added lobster features to the creature. Designers also used dried fruits and vegetables to create the texture of the acklay's skin. The acklay's fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi was inspired in part by the Ray Harryhausen movie Mysterious Island, particularly the scene where a marooned sailor fights a giant crab with a spear. The acklay's sound was created from the sounds of a dolphin and a pig. Dried melons were used as a texture plate, in order to find a color scheme.
Notes and references
- The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Star Wars: Head-to-Head Tag Teams
- Legacy (2006) 5
- Legacy (2006) 32
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 1, Star Wars A–Z section.
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
- Star Wars: Complete Locations
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- The Air Up Thaere
- A Mon Alone
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- Millennium Falcon
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- Star Wars Galaxies: Starter Kit—Legacy Quest: "Old Republic Droid Modules: Borvo's Battle Droid" on Naboo
- Star Wars Galaxies: Starter Kit—Quest: "Coronet Murmurs: Clear Out the Zoo" on Corellia
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game
- The Essential Atlas
- The Art of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones