Take a deep dive into the Empire's group of Jedi hunters.
Star Wars Inside Intel is a StarWars.com feature where Lucasfilm’s Emily Shkoukani, whose job is to know as much about a galaxy far, far away as possible, explores obscure facts about Star Wars lore and continuity. In this installment, Emily explores the evil Inquisitorius…
First mentioned in The Star Wars Sourcebook back in 1987, the Inquisitorius and the general concept of a group of dark side agents working for the Empire is nearly as old as the saga itself. After the storytelling reset in 2014, this group was reintroduced into current fiction in the series premiere of Star Wars Rebels, “Spark of Rebellion.” But the specifics regarding this group and how it operates have evolved since its inception, originally starting as a secret division of Imperial Intelligence, compared to the current Inquisitorius, who function under a more specific directive as ruthless Jedi hunters.
The Inquisitorius was created soon after the erection of the Galactic Empire. Although Order 66 was largely successful at purging the galaxy of Jedi, Emperor Palpatine needed to ensure his position of power could not be jeopardized or usurped by the light side, and so the Inquisitorius was born. But in a twist of fate, these Inquisitors were once Jedi themselves. Explored in Lucasfilm Games and Respawn Entertainment’s award-winning video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, these dark side agents were Jedi captured by the Empire in the aftermath of the Clone Wars, then corrupted, tortured, and finally molded into soldiers of evil. Trilla Suduri, the antagonist of Jedi: Fallen Order, was one such Jedi. Although she initially survived the purge carried out by the clones, the galaxy was almost immediately unsafe for any Jedi after Order 66. (Even those sympathetic to the Jedi refused to harbor them out of fear of being hunted themselves.) Trilla, a Padawan at the time, and her master Cere Junda attempted to hide from the Empire in the aftermath, but were inevitably captured. Trilla was quickly corrupted and turned to the dark side by the Empire’s evil torture tactics, becoming Second Sister, all while Cere watched helplessly. Although the Inquisitors used the dark side of the Force and wielded red lightsabers, they were not followers of the Sith dogma like Sidious and Darth Vader. Instead, they functioned essentially as specialized soldiers of the Empire. This kept the Inquisitorius’ infighting from spreading and potentially threatening Sidious’s power, as well.
Charles Soule’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Marvel run further explores the early days of the Inquisition, and specifically Darth Vader’s introduction to the order. Confronted in the former Jedi Temple by a mysterious Force user, Vader learned the Pau’an was the Emperor’s Grand Inquisitor, the leader of a select group. Palpatine then handed over the Inquisitors to Vader, who would task them with various missions to hunt down Jedi and any Force sensitives -- including children -- that might threaten the Emperor’s power. Eeth Koth was one such Jedi that met his fate against the Inquisitors. As years lapsed, fewer and fewer Jedi were found in the galaxy; the Inquisition was working.
As the Jedi numbers dwindled, Vader became less involved in the Inquisition, only stepping in to keep the dark side warriors obedient. If Vader sensed any unruly behavior, he did not hesitate to eliminate the infection from the group.
The hierarchy of the squad was quite simple: Vader oversaw the organization at large while the Grand Inquisitor was responsible for leading them in their day-to-day operations and reported directly to Vader. The rest of the Inquisitors reported to the Grand Inquisitor, but a constant struggle for power was apparent. Palpatine and Vader allowed this struggle to exist, encouraging the Inquisitors to always strive for superiority amongst themselves rather than threatening their dynamic. In the limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Third Sister, Reva, continuously challenges the Grand Inquisitor’s authority in order to achieve her own personal goals, including an attempt to usurp his position.
First seen in Jedi: Fallen Order, the group operated out of Fortress Inquisitorius, an intimidating and towering building erected in the oceans of Nur -- a moon in the Mustafar system where Vader resided. This was an intentional choice by Vader to keep them close and under his thumb. The structure itself even resembled that of Vader’s castle. The Fortress was heavily armed, with a portion of it submerged underwater for extra security. Despite this, the Fortress had been breached at least twice: originally by Jedi Cal Kestis and Cere Junda in an attempt to retrieve a Jedi holocron that contained a list of Force sensitive beings in the galaxy, and again by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Tala Durith in an effort to rescue young Leia Organa. Both groups were successful, although they were anything but easy missions.
In addition to being the Inquisitorius’ headquarters, Fortress Inquisitorius was also where Jedi were taken to be corrupted by the dark side and formed into Inquisitors. If the torture tactics to corrupt them were not successful, they were killed.
The very idea of Jedi became legend as the Inquisitorius hunted down and defeated every last one they could find. Over a decade after the formation of the Empire, in the later years of what was known as the Dark Times, the Inquisitors focused their efforts on a small band of rebels called the Spectres that fostered two Jedi: Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger. The Grand Inquisitor met his demise against the two, leaving a power void in his absence. Tides changed in the galaxy as a formal rebellion against the Empire grew, with more and more allies joining the Spectres and aiding the Jedi. Still, what became of the Inquisitorius remains unknown...