The recently-published Star Wars Book finally explains why Palpatine was kidnapping children in The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Star Wars has finally cleared up a mystery from Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, explaining why Palpatine was kidnapping Force-sensitive children across the galaxy. The most powerful Sith Lord of all time, Darth Sidious was the mastermind behind the fall of the Jedi Order and the establishment of his Empire. There was a reason behind everything he did – which makes one mysterious plan all the more tantalizing, because it has never been properly explained.
Clone Wars season 2 featured a sinister plot in which Darth Sidious hired bounty hunters to kidnap Force-sensitive children from across the galaxy, an effort that was brought to a premature end by Anakin Skywalker himself. But Star Wars Rebels revealed the Emperor resumed that approach during the Dark Times in which the Empire ruled the galaxy, with Ahsoka barely managing to save a group of children from the Inquisitors. The idea has been further developed in George Mann’s books Myths & Fables and Dark Legends, which suggested Darth Vader and the Inquisitors stole children from Rim-worlds and even orphanages. They appeared to be acting in secret, carefully avoiding an Imperial presence and taking only one infant at a time so they just looked like runaways. But what was all this for?
An answer has finally been provided in The Star Wars Book, which features contributions from Pablo Hidalgo, Dan Zehr, and Cole Horton. According to The Star Wars Book, this was all part of Project Harvester.
Just one of Darth Sidious’ secret plans, Project Harvester aims to identify and capture Force-sensitive children and turn them into agents of the dark side. Operating from the planet Arkanis, the children are raised in the care of Sidious’ agents. His ultimate vision is to train an army of Force-sensitive spies to use their powers to see events hidden across the galaxy. The Emperor believes that by peering into events, he can find and destroy anyone who opposes him.
This fits with dialogue in the Clone Wars episode “Children of the Force,” finally explaining why Darth Sidious remained focused on kidnapping Force-sensitive children for so many decades. As seen in The Clone Wars, he initially broke his victims’ wills using the power of the dark side, and presumably then trained them in the specific arts he wished them to master. None of these would have been suitable candidates to become Sith minions such as the Inquisitors, because they had been broken rather than seduced by the dark side.
While Sidious’ plans were disrupted by Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, no doubt hundreds of Force-sensitive infants were stolen during the Dark Times. This raises the disturbing question of just what happened to them; was the facility on Arkanis eventually shut down by the Rebellion? Or were those victims ferried off to Exegol, becoming part of the Sith Eternal cult? The story possibilities are vast, so hopefully it won’t be long before Star Wars explores this idea in more detail.