Star Wars has subtly hinted that Darth Vader was kidnapping children - but it hasn't offered a clue as to why. The decades between the Prequels and the Original Trilogy are known as the Dark Times, an era in which the Empire systematically erased all records of the Jedi.
Darth Vader and his Inquisitors were charged by the Emperor to hunt down Force-sensitives across the galaxy. They pursued the survivors of Order 66, the handful of Jedi who had escaped the Clone Troopers' surprise attack. Darth Vader became the Empire's most terrifying enforcer, unstoppable and relentless. But did he really just kill all his targets - or did he leave some alive?
George Mann's Star Wars: Myths & Fables is a collection of in-universe legends, and like any legend there's a hint of truth to them. One of the most intriguing is a story called "The Dark Wraith," which tells a tale from the planet of Cerosha. The Ceroshans seem to have been quite a primitive race, and although they're a space-faring people they don't really seem to have understood galactic civilization. As a result, when Darth Vader started arriving on Cerosha - presumably as part of the Purge - they interpreted him as a monstrous spirit who punished any wrongdoer. While Darth Vader is never named, it's not hard to interpret the legend; it tells of a being clad in black with a crimson blade, whose breathing was equal parts organic and mechanical. And here's the interesting thing that the Ceroshans themselves never noticed; this so-called Dark Wraith slaughtered adults, but kidnapped children.
It's safe to assume that everyone Darth Vader targeted was actually a Force-sensitive. But this is the first time there's ever been a hint that Darth Vader didn't just slaughter every potential Jedi he encountered; and notice that he's chosen to take children from a backwater world like Cerosha. These actions would have gone unnoticed by the rest of the galaxy - which may well be the point. The Ceroshan legends don't tell of Stormtroopers or Inquisitors, perhaps suggesting this mission was unsanctioned by the Emperor.
It's possible that Darth Vader was searching for potential apprentices, intending to one day supplant Palpatine as Dark Lord of the Sith. Alternatively, given the Ceroshans told of multiple children being abducted by their "Dark Wraith," it could be that he was ignoring the Sith Rule of Two; it's not as though Palpatine was honoring it, after all. Whatever the truth may be, though, Star Wars: Myths & Fables raises a disturbing question; what happened to these children? None of them have ever been mentioned before in the Star Wars canon, meaning their story is yet to be told.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019