- "Way I heard it, nine guys broke out, one of them a Jedi."
- ―Anonymous Imperial CPO to Tenn Graneet
The Death Star Uprising was a relatively large prison riot, originating in Detention Block 2180 aboard the first Death Star, where Rebel Alliance captives-of-war attempted to escape by fighting their way into two hangars and stealing a Sentinel-class landing craft. Although the prisoners' escape was completely prevented, their rioting may have only been a diversion for a more important and ultimately successful objective; a section of the Death Star plans was secretly stolen during the uprising and transported into the possession of Rebels located at a covert base on Polis Massa.
- "Once it was finally finished the Death Star was the Emperor's favorite toy and it was also the most boring assignment in the galaxy for a stormtrooper. Tedious inspection drills, endless hours of guarding impregnable force field generators..."
- ―Anonymous 501st stormtrooper
During the later stages of the Death Star's construction, captured Imperial enemies from all across the galaxy were quietly sent to the top-secret space station for interrogation and imprisonment. A group of captives of the organized Rebel movement became acquainted with an unidentified Human Jedi prisoner who was also confined to Block 2180. He had devised a simple plan to escape from the Imperial battle station that could be initiated with the co-operation of the other inmates.
- "...things got so bad that when a prison break erupted in the cell block, we were almost happy to have someone shooting at us again. If only we had known what an embarrasing snipestorm we were about to wade into. We probably would have jettisoned the whole detention block into space."
- ―Anonymous 501st stormtrooper
The Empire was probably not alerted of the stealthy prison-break until after the rioters had raided an Imperial arsenal, arming themselves against expected stormtrooper counterattacks.
The first stormtroopers to become aware of the riot were those in Hangar 84G who met up with the elite 501st Legion troopers—coincidentally aboard the Death Star for an exterior inspection—that assembled in the hangar and drove off the Rebels through two blast doors that they poured in through. Most prisoners could not be recaptured without a fight and so were shot down in the unanticipated bloodshed. Hangar 84-G was at last secured and locked-down by the Empire after a few minutes of assault and the Rebels instead moved on toward the Fire Control Room where the superlaser was located.
Meanwhile, stormtroopers rushed across walkways toward the superlaser, blasting a Rebel who had stolen the Death Star's schematics. Unfortunately for the Empire, the bridge normally spanning a reactor tunnel, which led to Hangar 84-G on one side and the Fire Control Room on the other, had been taken down earlier. The stormtroopers instead had to use the alternate (and much longer) route through the prison area. In the meantime, other Rebels had managed to arrive at Hangar 85G, just beyond the Fire Control Room, capturing it long enough to beam a separate, partial set of the schematics to a Rebel base on Polis Massa. The other sets would be stolen at Danuta and Toprawa.
All the rioters in the Fire Control Room were blasted and the Imperial troopers moved onward to Hangar 85-G before the Rebels could completely board and hijack a Sentinel-class landing craft as an escape shuttle. With not more than two minutes before take-off, stormtroopers burst into the hangar eliminating as many escapees as they could. Their Jedi leader at last exposed himself in a desperate sprint toward the shuttle, but a moment later, Imperial shock troopers had blown it up.
The frenzied Jedi ignited his lightsaber and cut through any trooper that stepped into his path. The Jedi and his squad of troopers were eventually gunned down. Imperial intelligence later tracked the missing schematics to Polis Massa, where an even more fiery skirmish would eventually break out.
Ironically, if it hadn't been for this uprising, the 501st Legion would have been wiped out when the Death Star exploded. Darth Vader, furious with the potential problem, replaced the 501st with a different legion of troopers.
- "After the embarrassment of the prison break, Lord Vader removed us from our comfortable billet, and began dragging the 501st across the galaxy, in a dangerous hunt for the now missing Death Star plans. Ironically, our punishment eventually proved to be our salvation; the poor souls who took our place in the detention area, were completely wiped out when the Death Star was destroyed."
- ― Anonymous 501st stormtrooper
The prison break was a great embarrassment to Darth Vader's supposedly "Elite" 501st Legion, and thus an embarrassment to Vader himself. As punishment, Vader had the Legion reassigned, from their "comfortable" position on the Death Star, to his army, helping him search the galaxy for the stolen Death Star plans. The search would prove futile, however, as the plans were not found in time to prevent the destruction of the Death Star. Despite this, the punishment made sure that the Legion was not stationed on the Death Star when it was destroyed. The troopers that did take their place, however, were utterly doomed.
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