Imagining a Day of Scavenging on Jakku

Sun, miles of sand and not a tourists in sight…if that sounds like your ultimate winter vacation spot, then you’ll love to let your mind wander through the desert junkyards of Jakku!

It’s often said that “life is what happen when you’re making other plans.” Nobody plans to get stuck somewhere, but it’s often those unplanned adventures that make the best stories. Getting marooned on Jakku, like Rey in The Force Awakens, may seem like a miserable fate, but perhaps it could be fun (sometimes, anyway) if you could learn to make the most of it? Using your imagination could even lead you to some interesting places…

Rey receiving portions from Unkar Plutt

Start Your Perfect Day with Plutt

On your first Jakku morning, you would need to concern yourself with acquiring food and water, above all else. That wouldn’t come free though — you’d have to work for it. Finding yourself at Nima Outpost, you’d want to head straight for Unkar Plutt’s concession stand. He might rent you some basic tools (the fee would be deducted from your earnings at the end of the day), and then he would match you with a team of experienced scavengers who can show you the ropes.

Nima has a great diversity of residents so you might find your team has some strange characters, like a female Dybrinthe wearing heavy brown robes, perhaps a long-necked Nu-cosian named Bobbajo, a couple of greedy Teedos, a snake-like Anacondan named Barley, and a trio of mysterious Junkers. Whether those Junkers are droids or organic beings under their patchwork cloth wrappings and mechanical prosthetics, you might wonder all morning.

Some people say they don’t like sand because it gets everywhere, and they are quite right! As you walk, the first thing you’d notice is the scalding sand building up in your shoes, beneath the soles of your feet. As the wind blows you’ll find it caking up behind your ears, around your eyes, and all underneath your cloths!

Knowing you aren’t accustomed to the exhausting walk on the shifting sands, Jethlo, the tall Dybrinthe, might offer you a ride on one of their lumbering luggabeasts. You might eagerly clamber aboard — that is, if you’ve never ridden a large beast before. At first you might notice the creature’s skin is thick like rubber but uncomfortably course like sandpaper. Soon a musky odour might fill your nostrils and even scent your own cloths. As the creature walks, it’s shoulders would rise and fall, jostling you from side to side and constantly slide you down against the rusty metal casing that covers its head.

If you look across the sand you would realize there is only one trail of footprints — on the path you follow — and everything else is pristine, windswept dunes. To the east you might see the Salt Plains of Chahm and beyond it the Bone Fields of Tuanbinh. To wander off on your own that way would mean a quick death from dehydration, sun burn, and heat stroke. The Bandits or carrion-eaters wouldn’t even find you until long after you were nothing but a shrived parcel of dry bones.

The Force Awakens - Jakku

Searching the Wrecks

You would probably be relieved when the team finally stops at a crash site not far from Nima, where wreckage from several TIEs, a B-wing, and a freighter or two are strewn about. Tiny pieces of degraded white stormtrooper armor, made brittle by the desert sun, lay scattered about, which suggest there was also a ground battle here.

Perhaps one of the Junkers would hand you a short pole and show you how to poke around in the sand, looking for salvageable stormtrooper armor plates and blasters components. Meanwhile the Teedos might go looking for abandoned droids to pick over, while Jethlo climbs into one of the freighter hulls to poke around.

You might watch Bobbajo leaning over to collect little burrowing sand lizards and winged zhhee. His interests are not with the junk, but the little creatures hiding amongst the wreckage. You might also turn to see the tip of Barley’s tail slithering underneath a TIE fighter cockpit — looking for who knows what. Perhaps the Anacondan isn’t looking for junk to salvage either, but rather something to eat.

As you dig your pole into the sand, you mostly turn up charred garbage, burned as these ships fell through Jakku’s atmosphere. You might also find organic matter like the carapace of a long-dead Jakku sand crab; the shell bright purple and covered in spines. However, unearthing a live three-tailed fire scorpion might startle you enough to send you leaping backwards as it unfurls it’s segmented appendages and skitters back to safety.

Discoveries You’d Rather Not Make

The Junkers are probably searching not far away, and may have discovered something interesting by now. As one lifts a small metallic orb from the ground, the others might rush over to see, not realizing it is a UXO — an unexploded ordnance from the war—which should never be handled by a novice! This one, a thermal detonator, would detonate with just enough jostling — and so it does with no warning at all — sending debris flying in all directions!

The rest of the team would instinctively rush to the source of the loud “BOOM.” If you manage to scramble over to the scene, it might confirm to you that the poor Junkers did indeed have a vestige of an organic body underneath those robes and prosthetic devices, after all. Barley, who you suddenly notice has slithered beside you, would probably seem singularly interested in the awful scene, insisting, as he licks his lips, that everybody else go back to work while he “cleans up the mess” by himself.

After such an unpleasant affair you’d probably only continue your labor with reluctance, but if you could manage to find a buried stormtrooper helmet and a blaster or two, perhaps that might be enough to sell to Unkar and sustain yourself for a few days.

Junk Food for Lunch

For lunch the group might travel a short distance to a trading post like Mallam — a tiny market built inside a wrecked Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser. Outside of Nima Outpost and the watchful eyes of Unkar’s thugs, a few traders could quietly sell locally-made crafts and a decent lunch.

The meats would be dried and heavily salted: crispy worrt skin, happabore jerky, and for variety: stir-fried dune beetles. The beetles’ iridescent black and blue carapaces pop with a warm, pungent jelly when you bite them. Their filling but the aftertaste is like engine grease. There might also be roasted tubers served cold; you’d peel the dirty skins off and eat them with your hands. There are no fruits or green vegetables — you’ll need Unkar’s rations for those nutrients. You might look over and notice that Barley is the only one not eating. If you enquired, then he might tell you that he’d “already had an early lunch.”

The sun would be high now and the afternoon heat too much to work comfortably, so your team would makes their way back to Nima Outpost, where you’ll clean and process your salvage, in the shade of Unkar’s workstations.

Cleaning up the Junk

As you scrub your stormtrooper helmet, stinging sweat would drip into your eyes. You’d also feel a painful prickly sensation on your back as sweat accumulates in your pores faster than it can be perspired. You’d feel faint and exhausted, ready to pass out, until a kind-hearted Bobbajo sets a little electric fan on the table facing you, turns it on and then pats you on the shoulder as he walks away, all without saying a word.

At first the fan is welcome relief, but as the air brushes your skin and evaporates your sweat, your skin might begin to feel sore. You’d look down and realize that not only are you red with sunburn, but you are actually purple in places! As the afternoon wears on, the slightest touch sets your skin on fire. It would be the worst sunburn you’ve had in your life!

In a tent nearby, Jethlo and the two Teedos would probably be reclining on a straw matt and playing Sabacc for the afternoon. Since you didn’t find much to sell on your first day, you might agree to clean their salvage in exchange for a small portion of their earnings today.

When the sun begins to set, you and your team would line up at Unkar’s counter and trade for the food rations that he offers in return. You’d receive barely enough for dinner and your meals tomorrow, along with a tall flask of water. But it’s enough to survive.

Rey and BB-8 traversing the Starship Graveyard on Jakku

Night in the Desert

As darkness looms, a breeze begins to blow. The air would soon feel chilly and the sand that burned your feet earlier is now cold to the touch. With your first day on Jakku over, you might follow your team to an open fire at the edge of Nima Outpost, where you could all spend the night. Several new Junkers might join you, too.

The evening winds cause the smoke to spin as it rises to the galaxy of stars above, while the flames lunge erratically. Kindly Bobbajo would show you how to prepare your food rations while the Junkers begin to make music. Their raucous electronic rhythms come not from external instruments, but the technology fused within their own bodies. The lively music is joined by humming from Jethlo, whose synthesized voice reverberates through her mechanical breathing apparatus, expelled with faint whips of luminous gas.

You might not notice that Barley has quietly coiled himself up to rest in the shadows — with one eye cracked open. Meanwhile the two Teedos are probably elsewhere in the darkness, stealing trinkets from the unsuspecting Junkers’ bags…

Kindly Bobbajo hands you a blanket and says that when the music is over, he’ll tell you the story of Nima the Hutt and the Seven Guardians of Goazon…if you don’t fall fast asleep first…

Author of DK’s Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide: Epic Battles and co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, follow Adam Bray on Twitter at @authoradambray.