WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: Target Vader #5 from Robbie Thompson, Roberto di Salvo, Marco Failla, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC's Joe Caramagna and Cris Bolson, on sale now.
In the Sith fraternity, the Rule of Two means there must always be a master and an apprentice. Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious had Darth Plageuis as his teacher, Palpatine had Darth Vader as a protege, and while it isn't canon under the Disney ownership, remember Vader had Starkiller under his wing.
Courtesy of Star Wars: Target Vader, however, we discover Vader did have a secret protege in the current canon, albeit one he employed on the fly, and shockingly, it's in the form of the series' protagonist, Beilert Valance.
Valance was hired by an extremist group outside the usual Rebel Alliance known as the Hidden Hand to kill Vader. Along with fellow bounty hunters Honnah, Chio Fan, Urrr'k and Dengar, they went on the assassination attempt, trying to use an EMP to murder the warlord, but thanks to Dengar's betrayal (which was pretty predictable as he was hired by Vader in The Empire Strikes Back), the mission has to be aborted. This issue finds a captured Valance being tortured by Vader on the Vengeance, one of the main Imperial Star Destroyers, informing us via flashbacks why Valance would eventually be turned to the Dark Side.
On his home planet, Chorin, decades ago, he was a miner who joined the Empire to bring peace to the cosmos. He lost an eye in battle, only to have it replaced with a look that best fits the Terminator franchise. Interestingly enough, he'd become more machine than man years later when he was burnt badly during another mission, which saw his boss Yurib pull some strings and get him a near-full robotic body. It was a rare thanks from the Empire, who then booted him out into retirement.
Valance's return home was pretty heartbreaking, though, as he found most of his people dead, killed by pissed-off raiders as all the resources to steal were already depleted by the Empire. This drove him to become a bounty hunter and Vader plays off this when he secretly allows Valance to escape custody. He intercepts the cyborg decked out in a Stormtrooper's suit, but instead of assaulting him, Vader takes him back home to Chorin for a heart to heart.
A self-critical Valance admonishes Vader, telling him that while he failed his home, Vader failed the planet too as it was loyal to the Empire. Still, some parts have been rebuilt and are getting aid from the Empire. Vader promises they'll be kept safe once Valance plays along and helps him find the Hidden Hand, who ironically was born on Chorin after the genocide. But it's less of a strong-arm deal and more of a bargain as Vader doesn't force Valance's hand. Sure, there's some subtle innuendo about not joining forces but Valance was going to, one way or the other. That's because he connects with Vader, a man of duty who lost his home when he was plucked from Tatooine as a child. Vader also lost his mom Shmi, similar to how Valance lost his family to the raiders, which is why the Sith general wants Valance to find this justice.
There's also a tragic poetry to Valance being rebuilt from a charred body the same way Vader was when Obi-Wan left Anakin burning to death on Mustafar -- they were meant to be agents of change and revenge, working to right the wrongs of a galaxy out of control and in need of order. Both soldiers empathize with each other and as a result, Valance reconnects with his hunters, ready to get them weapons if they help him turn on their employers and deliver the Hidden Hand to Vader. This, to Valance, is part of stemming the growing sense of chaos enveloping everything he ever knew.
Issue #6, the conclusion to Star Wars: Target Vader, goes on sale Dec. 11.