"Gentis rallied thousands of cadets and officers to his cause. For a brief moment, he controlled all of Coruscant's military and political might. He even had the moral conviction that what he was doing was right. But in the end, none of that mattered…because he didn't have the Emperor."
―Admiral Laurita Tohm, in Imperial Incident Report CM-0420-003[3]

The Ghost Prison incident was a military coup that occurred in the early days of the Galactic Empire's reign. The coup was orchestrated and instigated by Gentis, the Headmaster of the Imperial Academy and a hero of the recently-ended Clone Wars. After serving Supreme Chancellor-turn-Galactic Emperor Palpatine through the Clone Wars and the early Imperial Period, Gentis grew weary of war and angry over the continued deaths of thousands of young Imperial soldiers. In 19 BBY, Gentis resolved to betray the Imperial establishment by enlisting the first class of Imperial Academy graduates in a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor and seize control of the Empire, thereby putting an end to Palpatine's destructive campaigns of oppression and expansion.

The coup began on the Imperial capital world of Coruscant, the evening of the Academy's graduation ceremony. Gentis-allied saboteurs and bombers detonated explosives at critical targets throughout Galactic City, while the Empire's newest class of officers disguised themselves as terrorists and attacked stormtroopers outside of the Imperial Palace. Meanwhile, Headmaster Gentis and several of his most trusted students personally met with Emperor Palpatine in his throne room, where they detonated bombs containing the deadly Aorth-6 virus. The bioweapon quickly killed all of Palpatine's defenders, but the Emperor was spared from death by his own Force abilities and the intervention of Imperial Moff Trachta. Although Palpatine's apprentice Darth Vader and the loyal Lieutenant Laurita Tohm defeated the attackers outside of the Palace, the Emperor's weakened condition and Gentis's influence on Coruscant forced the loyalists to flee the planet.

Darth Vader and Moff Trachta agreed to take Palpatine to a location far removed from Gentis's influence. Calling upon his past experience as a Jedi, Vader suggested The Prism, a secret prison facility previously maintained by the Jedi Order and entirely unknown to the rest of the galaxy. Vader, Tohm, and Trachta ferried the Emperor to The Prism, where he was rehabilitated; meanwhile, Gentis consolidated power on Coruscant and moved forward with his plan to seize total control. Given that he was uncertain of Palpatine's survival, he maintained the facade of a terrorist attack and instead decided to target Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin—one of the Empire's most prominent military and political leaders and the head of the secretive Death Star project.

On The Prism, Vader and Tohm hatched a plan to retake Coruscant by recruiting an army comprised of the prisoners in the facility. After instigating violent riots to cull the weak and find the strongest of the inmates, the Imperials selected thirty-three former criminals to pardon and reform into a pro-Palpatine fighting force. Their plan reached fruition when the loyalists were able to intercept Grand Moff Tarkin's shuttle en route to Coruscant and confront Gentis. A fierce battle erupted between Palpatine's forces and the insurgent officers upon the shuttle's arrival on the planet, but in spite of the revolutionaries' superior numbers, they were quickly overcome. Emperor Palpatine personally killed Headmaster Gentis during the battle, finally ending the coup and reclaiming Coruscant. In the aftermath of the conflict, later dubbed the "Ghost Prison incident," the surviving conspirators were rounded up and executed by firing squad and the events of Gentis's coup were deemed classified by the Imperial government. Trachta and Tohm were promoted to the positions of Grand Moff and Admiral, respectively, and the remaining prisoners from The Prism were killed.



"I gave the Emperor my sons, and he gave me caskets!"

In 19 BBY, a few weeks after the rise of the Galactic Empire, General Gentis attended a military meeting on Imperial Center. While seeking to escape the droning of the various Moffs, he discovered the Imperial Crematorium, and watched hundreds of dead Imperials be incinerated every minute. Realizing that even though the war had ended, the Emperor's warmongering ways would never cease, he quickly set about seeking a way to end the senseless killing. The fact that the Emperor's warmongering ways also cost him all of his sons except for Caul only solidified his desire to end it.

The first class[]

"You do not need one thousand hours in the tactical simulators, or to survive on starvation rations during a sixteen-day mock siege. In fact, you need only pass a single, simple test... answer one single question-do you have the courage to die for your Empire?"

A few months later, the cadets of the graduating class of the Raithal Academy arrived on Coruscant. They were part of six different academies from around the galaxy who came to the capital in order to be part of the first graduating class of Imperial officers. Their training—like that of the Empire's clones and other military personnel—had been accelerated from the usual years to only a few months. Gentis, a hero of the Clone Wars, presided over the ceremonies. Laurita Tohm was the valedictorian of the Raithal Academy, and thus was given the rank of lieutenant by Gentis himself.

Tohm was soon selected to be a part of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin's fleet, but Gentis had other plans for the young officer. He ordered Ensigns Caul and Shens to keep Tohm "out of harm's way". Tohm's friends locked him inside a prototype Imperial Starfighter, and for a time, he assumed it was a practical joke. In reality, this was the first small step in Gentis's coup, as he believed that the promising officer would draw too much attention due to his prominence and deformities. Gentis, in truth, cared deeply about those he trained, and orchestrated the coup in part because he knew their new Emperor would never cease throwing Imperials to their deaths.

The usurpation of Coruscant[]

"You couldn't be involved—you always draw too much attention. But you can stand with us now. Kill Darth Vader and the Empire is ours."
"You should have asked me yesterday."
―Shens pleads with Tohm before the latter executes him[7]

Explosions rocked the cityscape for kilometers around, eliminating seventy-two Imperial targets within minutes. The officer's club, various Stormtrooper garrisons, the Comm Towers, and a supply depot were all destroyed. Imperial Plaza became ground zero in the battle that erupted, as "terrorist" forces swarmed through the city streets, fighting with the Empire's clone forces. The stormtroopers were losing the battle until Darth Vader appeared, rallying the troops and driving the enemy forces back. In the madness, Tohm had escaped from the prototype starfighter by engaging its ejection seat and landing in the midst of the battle. Tohm joined the stormtroopers in following Vader, but when one of the terrorists grabbed his ankle, he bent and removed the man's mask, revealing his friend Shens. Shens begged Tohm to help them kill Palpatine, the main target of their assassination attempts that night.

Palpatine escaped to a hidden Jedi prison, the Prism.

As Shens lay dying, he then asked Tohm to kill Vader, but Tohm told his friend that he should have included him earlier, and shot Shens in the head. Tohm then bowed to Vader, who instantly respected his bravery and loyalty. As the pair made their way from the plaza, another explosion tore through the nearby buildings, unleashing a powerful necrotic virus known as Aorth-6. Dozens of Imperials, including Royal Guardsmen, were killed by the aerosolized virus, which liquified them from the inside out. Tohm donned a breathing device that he had taken from the TIE fighter when he ejected and followed Vader inside. There they found a mortally infected Palpatine and Moff Trachta. Palpatine was using the dark side of the Force to keep the virus at bay, but was losing the battle even with his formidable powers. Vader accused Trachta of being in league with the conspiracy, but the Moff vehemently denied it, saying they needed to get the Emperor into hiding; fear of his power was the only thing keeping the Empire together. The trio escorted Palpatine to secret hangar below the Imperial Palace, where they loaded him aboard a stealth transport.

The Prism[]

"This wasn't war... It was just violence."
Laurita Tohm[6]

The team stopping the riot.

Using information gleaned from the Jedi Temple's High Council Chamber, Vader deduced that the only safe haven for the sick Emperor was at the Prism, a prison facility located near Diab's sixth moon at the Diab system that was kept secret by the Jedi Council from even the Supreme Chancellor.

Lacking loyal or trustworthy soldiers, Tohm suggested to Vader that the prisoners of the Prism be released and allowed to fight for them, which would allow them to retake Coruscant from General Gentis. Vader amended Tohm's idea, and rather than simply releasing the prisoners, he forced 207 of them to fight one another, as well as Tohm and himself, for the right to serve the Galactic Empire. The battle was vicious and wild, with casualties mounting quickly. Separatist sniper Shonn Volta allied herself with Tohm after saving his life from General Ur'Loach, while Vader defeated Nax Cirvan, a fallen Jedi, who then submitted to the Dark Lord.

In the end, only thirty-three prisoners survived in fighting condition, including Volta and Cirvan. Vader ordered Trachta to tell the survivors what it meant to serve the Empire. Trachta told the survivors that their crimes were now forgotten, but their reasons for committing them were not—they would now serve an institution not beholden to the "selfish" senators of the Republic, nor the Jedi Order. The prisoners knelt before Trachta and the others, becoming Imperials through their submission.

Retaking Coruscant[]


"I have great respect for Vader. And a healthy dose of fear. He is an unmatched warrior and unwavering in his loyalty to the Emperor. But he is a blunt instrument. He solves every problem with a lightsaber. He never admits his own mistakes. He has no need of allies—and he certainly has no interest in mentoring anyone."
―Moff Trachta[6]


Palpatine loyalists[]

"We fight not for fortune or glory, but for order. And we kill our enemies quick and clean. So kneel before us, and let the blood on your hands become a badge of honor. Let it make you loyal and brave. Let it make you fierce and unrelenting. And above all, let it make you Imperial."
―Moff Trachta, to the inmates of The Prism[6]

Emperor Palpatine[]

Darth Vader[]

Moff Trachta[]

Laurita Tohm[]

Shonn Volta[]

Imperial insurgents[]

"The Imperial Crematorium. Each transport carries twenty dead Imperials. In the time that we have been here, nearly one hundred officers and troopers have been reduced to ash. If the Emperor remains in power, how long until you are loaded into the incinerator as well, General?"
―Headmaster Gentis explains his reason for rebelling[5]

Headmaster Gentis[]

Ensign Caul Gentis[]

Ensign Shens[]


Notes and references[]

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