On countless worlds news spreads of a new weapon. It takes the shape of a space station but its power is that to destroy entire worlds. It looks like a small moon. It is called the Death Star.
It is an instrument of ultimate terror, the last most obvious sign of how corrupted the Galactic Empire has become, twenty years in the making. Regional governors have been given direct control on these worlds with the dissolution of the Senate. Panic is rampant.
Except the Death Star isn't real. It's only a piece of propaganda. Whether this is a figment conjured by the Empire itself or by the Rebel Alliance, no one knows, and truthfully, no one cares.
This is what it's come to. Sensationalism. In the earliest days, that was only possible when talking about the Jedi Knights. In the days of the Old Republic, people used to talk about the Jedi in much the same way. Yes, they were a force for good, but so few people actually saw the Jedi that for almost everyone they were all but a figment of the imagination, too.
And their kind disappeared forever at the dawn of the Empire.
Everyone feels the weight of the Empire groaning. The Emperor himself is aging. He is the latest of the great historic conquerors who never considered the matter of a successor. When he dies there will be no one to replace him. The Empire itself will collapse in his wake. So the idea of the Death Star is born. Again, it could be the Empire, creating this idea to give new heft to the crumbling infrastructure. It could be the Rebellion to speed death along its way.
Does it matter? It isn't real, and that's all you really need to know.