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The deadly warship was the Emperor's first superweapon. It was referred to as both a "dreadnought" and a "battlemoon". As part of its secretive origin, the vessel was made to look similar to an asteroid, including the implementation of impact craters under Palpatine's direct input. The reason for this was officially stated as a means of protection from detection by enemy vessels and worlds, although it was speculated to have either been done as a means to ensure its development remained a secret due to potential outrage, or possibly even converted from a large space rock in order to save on material resources. Akin to a Torpedo Sphere in role (ie an enormous siege platform intended to target sections of planet with myriad weapons) the Eye was armed with much more weaponry and built on a much larger scale. Its firepower rivaled and possibly exceeded that of an entire fleet carrying out a Base Delta Zero-type orbital bombardment, i.e. it could reduce the upper crust of a planet to molten slag while acting alone and using only its own weaponry. Its overall size surpassed that of the Torpedo Spheres as well as several Super Star Destroyers, although its length was on par with the Executor-class Star Dreadnoughts and the Vengeance-class dreadnoughts.
The main bridge was located at the bow of the vessel. In addition, a KDY-style tower was also implemented on the dorsal area of the ship, although it was included solely as a deflector shield generator. Another deflector-shield generator was likewise located near the stern of the ship, on its ventral side. It also included at least one sensor-array, visible on the bow as being a large crater. The hangar bays were located close to the stern of the ship, which it had possessed at least eight, at least one of which was on an area of the ship where its metallic hull was exposed. It also possessed at least six sublight engines, one near the dorsal side and two near the ventral side of the vessel's stern. The hyperdrive was located in the equatorial area of the vessel's stern. Its weaponry included at least four sets of ventral turbolaser batteries, a ring of eight forward focused turbolaser batteries, and its primary weapon, a laser targeting beam emitter, located at the center of the forward focused turbolaser battery ring.
Because of the secrecy involved, the ship was unmanned and all its systems were controlled by an artificial intelligence known as the Will. The ship was equipped with many TIE squadrons as well as Beta-class ETR-3 escort transports and Skipray Blastboats. Much of the ship's onboard equipment was supplied by SoroSuub Corporation.
The dreadnaught was designed by Ohran Keldor, who also had a hand in the Death Star project. Palpatine had the Eye constructed in 18 BBY, via government funds that he had personally diverted, and he intended to use it to destroy Belsavis's Plawal Rift, where the Children of the Jedi were being sheltered by the Ho'Din Jedi Master Plett in the same year. This rift was a lush, steamed-filled geothermal vent gouged into the planet's icy wastes and covered by a transparisteel dome. Since this action would have caused outrage in the Imperial Senate, he scattered the vessel's contingent of troops across the Outer Rim Territories to await pickup. The ship also was made to resemble an asteroid, even including impact craters, as a means of camouflage. Officially, the camouflage was implemented to either deceive or baffle scanners from enemy worlds and vessels, although later historians speculated that the real reason was to keep its development a secret from the Imperial Senate, due largely to Palpatine having already ordered for the commencement of the Death Star project by the time he ordered the construction of the dreadnought.
The ship was constructed at the shipyards of Rothana and at Patriim, where it was activated and sent to Belsavis to destroy the Jedi. Scheduled to fly along lightly traveled hyperlanes, it would pick up contingents of troops at Pzob, Dom-Bradden, Kirdo III, Tatooine and Alzoc III. The vessel failed to arrive at any of these places, however, thanks to sabotage by two Jedi Knights, Geith Eris and Callista Ming, in the Moonflower Nebula. Callista was forced to trap her spirit in the ship's computers in order to stop it. Plett and the children of the Jedi were able to leave Belsavis and escape as a result of Geith's and Callista's heroic act. As a direct result, the Emperor, furious at the failure of his plans, had several people imprisoned for the loss of the Eye.
The Eye remained dormant until 12 ABY, when the Emperor's Hand Roganda Ismaren located it. She used her son Irek Ismaren—who had been implanted with a sub-electronic converter that allowed him to control any machine by thought—to "summon" the dormant ship to Belsavis in her attempt to revitalize the Empire. Upon activation, the Eye of Palpatine attempted to fulfill its programming by picking up its Imperial stormtrooper contingent. But, after so many years, the troops had disappeared, except for Triv Pothman, one of 45 troopers left on the Gamorrean colony Pzob, who survived the bloodshed brought on by the various warring Gamorrean tribes.
Undaunted, the Eye went after any sentient beings found in the appropriate locations. It began grabbing groups of prisoners from various species located on many worlds. Soon the Eye was filled with numerous species including Talz, Affytechans, Jawas, Kitonaks, Tusken Raiders, Tripods, and Gamorreans. They were all brainwashed into thinking they were Imperial stormtroopers. The Eye was eventually destroyed by Jedi student Nichos Marr over Belsavis. Although no evidence could be found in any of the surviving Imperial records recovered by the New Republic, Qwi Xux believed that the Eye had a sister ship; that ship's mission or final fate, if it even existed, had not been discovered as of 25 ABY.