Rogue Grand Admiral Demetrius Zaarin had betrayed the Galactic Empire. During the Zaarin insurrection, Zaarin attempted to strip the Empire of its starfighter superiority by stealing the TIE Defender technology from his Research platform. The attempt was unsuccessful and two remaining TIE Defender prototypes were safely uploaded to a BFF-1 bulk freighter Mharsup and the staff, including the chief scientist onto the Lambda-class shuttle G'nabgib. After transferring the fighters to the corvette group Hashim. However, the corvettes were ambushed and disabled by Rneekii pirates. Although driven off, the pirates made off with the scientist and the data. Worse was that another pirate force, the Nami, led by Ali Tarrak, managed to steal one of the prototypes, meaning that it was possible for TIE Defenders to be manufactured outside the Empire's authority. This situation was unacceptable to the Empire, especially with the upcoming confrontation with the Rebellion.
The Rneekii decided to ransom the scientist to the highest bidder. Unsurprisingly, the Empire was the highest bidder and agreed to trade the scientist at Kiilimaar. Unfortunately for the pirates, they underestimated the Empire's resolve to recover the scientist as the single Assault Gunboat they allowed as escort was piloted by Tan Maarek Stele, who after receiving the signal "Full speed to Kiilimar!" attacked the pirates' transport and disabled it, with the Interdictor Red Claw trapping the pirates and preventing their escape. While the pirates were being dealt with, a small Nami strike force with YT-1300 transport Dhoora arrived and attacked the Red Claw, disabling the hyperdrive and the gravity well generator. The strike team boarded the shuttle to try to capture the scientist, but the operation was unsuccessful, and the transport was captured and taken to the Red Claw so the crew could be interrogated.
With the hyperdrive and gravity well disabled, the Red Claw called two modified corvettes which formed flight group Chemeti to pick up the prisoners and the scientist and deliver a new hyperdrive engine. The first Chemeti arrived saying the second had been delayed. Zaarin suddenly sent a strike force of multiple TIE Defenders, which was thwarted by Maarek Stele as the corvette retrieved the scientist and prisoners and left. Not long afterwards, two corvettes from Chemeti arrived, and at that point the Imperials realized that they had been deceived as Zaarin's Strike-class medium cruiser Z-Kopsh arrived to destroy the Red Claw. The attack was thwarted by Stele, who guarded the Red Claw at the captain's preference to abandon the ship.
Under the GunEdit
Maarek Stele was then sent to the Yrrna system, where an Imperial cargo area was under attack from TIE Defenders built by Ali Tarrak. Tarrak also arranged for Rebel Carrack-class light cruiser Jester to observe the attack. While the cargo area was being destroyed, the Modular conveyor Ulzepdi, which carried the surviving personnel, managed to get a safe distance from the TIE Defenders but was being pursued by T-Wings and transports. Stele provided cover for the transport by destroying all T-wings and transports before they could damage the Ulzepdi.
Missile Boat DiplomacyEdit
Admiral Thrawn spoke to Palpatine and introduced to him his personally designed starfighter, the Missile Boat. Maarek Stele was among the Imperials to pilot it on its first tour of duty. Imperial scouts located Strike-cruiser Nuance preparing to sell TIE Defenders to Rebel cruiser Prism. Stele in his Missile Boat destroyed the T-wing fighter coverage, while the Nuance launched transports Miner to deploy mines around the cruiser. The Imperial fighters overwhelmed the defenses, the Prism was destroyed, and the Nuance was boarded and captured, recovering eight TIE Defenders. Stele also discovered Rebel probe Yey and destroyed it. A few prisoners then revealed that Ali Tarrak had a manufacturing facility producing TIE Defenders.
Thrawn, knowing that the Rebels wouldn't give up the Defenders without a fight, decided to make a stand against the Rebel counterattack. The Rebels, sure enough, sent three Carrack-cruisers Kingdom and multiple X-wings, Y-wings, and Z-95 Headhunters. Although the Grey Wolf suffered considerable damage. Stele in his Missile Boat managed to defeat the Rebel counterattack by destroying all three Carrack-cruisers and the escort shuttle Black Box that was carrying officers.
Eliminate TIE Defender FactoryEdit
Wasting no time, Thrawn tracked down Tarrak's factory Tarrak. Though he intended to destroy the facility, he saw a resemblance of himself in Tarrak and convinced Palpatine that she could be useful, so he was ordered to capture her instead. After dealing with her T-wings and Y-wings Stele soon shot down some of the Type C mines dodging and shooting down the missiles launched from each one. Tarrak's TIE Defenders were soon launched from the facility but were also destroyed before they could do any real damage. With the fighter defenses eliminated and soon the mines cleared TIE Bombers began their bombing run on the facility. At its end, the Empire defeated the Nami forces, destroying their TIE Defender factory, and captured their leader, Ali Tarrak, also reclaiming the TIE Defender scientist and repelling the Rebel attack from the Mon Calamari Cruiser Independence and two Strike cruisers Lonsigar 1 and 2.
The attempt to proliferate the TIE Defenders brought under control, leaving Zaarin the only one who had TIE Defenders to fight the Empire with. The success resulted in Thrawn being promoted to Grand Admiral, placing him among Palpatine's inner circle of twelve Grand Admirals in the Imperial Navy despite the Emperor's preference for Humans over Aliens. Thrawn was then tasked to track down Zaarin and eliminate him once and for all.
Stele was awarded the Medal of Horror for his efforts.
Behind the scenesEdit
New Threats is the title of Battle Ten in the single-player campaign of Star Wars: TIE Fighter.