This post contains POSSIBLE SPOILERS for Star Wars 9
The latest Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker rumors indicate Palpatine has a secret fleet lurking in the Unknown Regions. Ever since the Star Wars 9 teaser trailer surprisingly revealed the villain still has a role to play in the Skywalker saga, fan have been wildly speculating about Palpatine's return. In typical Lucasfilm fashion, they're keeping things pretty close to the chest, with this spring's Vanity Fair cover story on the movie forgoing any mention of Star Wars' big bad. On-paper, this reads as a smart marketing decision; just teasing Palpatine's return with his iconic laugh is enough to drum up excitement.
Still, fans are eager to learn as much as they can before Star Wars 9's December premiere. This month, Lucasfilm officially revealed the Sith Troopers, the latest stormtrooper variant that director J.J. Abrams is hyping up. Like most things about Star Wars 9, the Sith Troopers largely remain a mystery, but the newest rumors about the film may provide some more clues.
According to Making Star Wars, the Sith Troopers are said to be "hidden away inside a massive fleet" that's in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. Another fascinating detail is that this fleet allegedly has Star Destroyers featuring Death Star-esque "planet destroying weapons." Kylo Ren has to find something called the Wayfinder device in order to, well, find this mysterious fleet and "unlock Palpatine's legacy." Again, these are rumors, so keep the grains of salt handy.
The Force Awakens opening text crawl stated the First Order rose from the ashes of the old Galactic Empire, but these rumors imply there have always been two villainous fleets in the sequel trilogy - one under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke, and another of Palpatine loyalists doing their own thing. Star Wars canon, in particular the Aftermath novel trilogy and the Thrawn books, have heavily played up Palpatine's strong interest in the Unknown Regions, so it isn't surprising to see the movies tap into this as well. Lucasfilm is not averse to tying their various mediums together, regardless of how confusing it might be for casual viewers who only keep up with the movies (see: Maul's Solo cameo). In all likelihood, Star Wars 9 will be very accessible for mainstream audiences (meaning none of these books are homework), but those who have been following the non-movie canon for years will probably get a little extra enjoyment out of the Unknown Region's role.
Kylo's mission might be further evidence there's some kind of schism in the First Order ranks. It goes without saying Kylo and General Hux have a rather tumultuous relationship and do not see eye-to-eye. The thought of the two of them working in harmony to lead the First Order sounds farfetched at this point in time, which might explain Kylo's interest in securing command of Palpatine's fleet. It's possible this ties into the Knights of Ren returning from "The Beyond"; maybe the Knights tell Kylo about Palpatine's fleet and he looks for a way to bring them back from the Unknown Regions, unleashing chaos. And how Palpatine factors into all this is still a mystery, so there's still much to learn about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker over these next handful of months.
Source: Making Star Wars