|Chronological and political information|
Nova Stihl was assigned to the garrison on the penal planet of Despayre during the construction of the Death Star. An unarmed combat specialist and Teräs Käsi practitioner, he trained prisoners in the basics of self-defense. While on the planet, he formed a loose friendship with Celot Ratua Dil, a Zelosian prisoner who aided him in his demonstrations.
When violence on the prison planet lowered by twelve percent thanks to Stihl, he was transferred from the garrison to the Death Star in orbit. On the station, Stihl continued his self-defense classes. On a night out celebrating one of his squadmate's forthcoming engagement, he went to a cantina called the Hard Heart. There, he met a bouncer named Rodo, and he instantly recognized him as a fellow fighter.
During his time on the Death Star, Stihl had nightmares that revolved around him fighting off a group of men, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of another. The dreams always seemed to end with his death. When he reported his nightmares to one of the Death Star's surgeons, Dr. Kornell "Uli" Divini, Uli discovered that Stihl had a midi-chlorian count of more than five thousand, thus revealing Stihl was Force-sensitive. Stihl, because of his Force-sensitivity, had sensed the deaths that occurred on Despayre and Alderaan when the Death Star used its superlaser to blow both planets up.
Eventually, Stihl met Memah Roothes, the bartender of the Hard Heart who was Rodo's friend, a slave named Teela Kaarz, Villian Dance, an Imperial TIE fighter pilot, Atour Riten, chief librarian aboard the Death Star, and also found out that Ratua had escaped from Despayre before its destruction. During a "hypothetical" conversation, the group decided that they could no longer be part of anything that could kill innocents on a massive scale.
Following the destruction of Alderaan, Stihl was part of the guard detachment sent to hunt down and capture Han Solo and Chewbacca. He chased them, but a flash of Force-sensitivity convinced him to let them escape. Once they had cleared a set of closing blast doors, Stihl held the pursuers up long enough by claiming that the manual release was faulty and would not open the doors.
The group planned to escape through a medical carrier, and got their chance during the Battle of Yavin. With the exception of Riten, who was forced to stay behind to ensure the others could flee, all of them attempted to escape. However, complications during their attempt meant that Stihl and Rodo had to stay behind and fight off an Imperial squad who tried to stop them. Stihl recognized the fight from his dreams, and knew what it meant. However, he continued fighting to allow the others to escape, eventually succumbing to a blaster shot to the face.
Behind the scenesEdit
Stihl is described as wearing the 18-piece suit of stormtrooper armor and being one of the stormtroopers who chase Han Solo and Chewbacca aboard the Death Star. However, earlier in the book he is called an army trooper. Elsewhere, his description seems to indicate he is one of the Death Star troopers in the Death Star conference room when Cass tells Grand Moff Tarkin the Rebels had deserted Dantooine. The authors of the novel seem to believe army troopers, Death Star troopers, and stormtroopers are identical, just wearing different uniforms, whereas previous EU sources indicate they are distinct, the Death Star troopers belonging to the Imperial Navy (not Army) and the Stormtrooper Corps being a separate entity. It is possible the "Imperial Marines" represent an elite group who cross train in all three branches, although this is only speculation. In addition, it is stated in the novel he is assigned the job only when a guard is sick and also states that he is not frequently given that task. In his case it is stated that they like having a soldier proficient in hand-to-hand as well as ranged combat.