Mist Encounter is a short story written by Timothy Zahn and illustrated by Doug Shuler, originally published in Star Wars Adventure Journal 7 by West End Games in August 1995. It was later printed in the paperback version of Outbound Flight which was published by Del Rey in January 2007, and has also been made available online at Hyperspace; however, the newer version contains some changes made presumably to fit in with the events in the prequels since the story's original printing. One such edit includes an early mention of Palpatine as "Chancellor" of the Republic and his reorganization of the government into the Galactic Empire, two details not revealed until the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Mist Encounter was also included in a Czech-language anthology Setkání v mlze in 2009.
Imperial Star Destroyer Strikefast was chasing the smuggler Booster Terrik into the Unknown Regions. After a blind jump trying (and failing) to escape the pursuing Strikefast, Terrik discovered an inhabitable planet at the edge of Known Space. With his hyperdrive damaged from the last jump, Terrik made for the planet to hole up in a cave (shooting down two pursuing TIE fighters in the process), using an 'unknown energy signature' to cover his landing position from the pursuing Star Destroyer.
Meanwhile, on the Strikefast, a fuming Captain Voss Parck received the report about the 'unknown energy signature'. Hampered by the standing Navy "Unknown Alien Encounter" orders, he was forced to send down a detachment of soldiers and technicians under the command of Colonel Mosh Barris to check it out, instead of proceeding with an orbital bombardment to flush the smugglers out.
After a while, Barris reported in that the signature was from a small encampment, probably from a shipwreck, and definitely from unknown origin, as the team's 3-PO droid was unable to identify the markings on the more technologically advanced items. Parck started to order him to settle down for the local night, but they were interrupted by Lieutenant Kraven, who demanded his colonel's presence at one of the downed TIE's crash site.
Once arrived, Barris saw that the pilot's body had disappeared, and that his flight suit had been stuffed with grasses and berries. More importantly, his survival pack, along with his blaster and grenades had been taken away as well. Believing this to be the work of savage natives, Barris ordered his second-in-command, Major Wyan to set up a secure perimeter and to call down reinforcements from the Strikefast, while he had the flight suit and it's bizarre content returned to camp for further examination.
A short time later, while Barris and Wyan perplexed over the content of the flight suit, a sudden explosion stirred up the encampment. As both officers spurred into action, trying to determine who or what was attacking them, a second explosion destroyed the tent they just exited, still without any sign of attackers. Wyan theorized that these explosions came from an overloaded power pack, and that the whole show with the flight suit was a feint from the smugglers. Barris agreed and reported in to Parck, who immediately launched TIE fighters to scan the area.
However, as soon as their search began, one of the TIE fighters crashed. Rushing there, Barris and his men found the pilot's body, but again lacking his survival gear, blaster and grenades. Barris immediately conferred with Parck, wondering at their opponent's tactics, until Parck suggested to check if the built-in comlink were still in both dead pilot's flight suits. Soon enough, they concluded that one was missing, and Parck had that comlink's frequency shut off. He then ordered Barris and his team to stand down for the night, and to wait for the light hours to continue their investigation.
It would not be an easy night however: three sentries died at the hand of the invisible attackers, and two more shot each other, believing they had found an intruder. By dawn, a sleep-deprived and very angry Barris suggested to conduct an orbital bombardment in spite of standing orders. Parck ordered him to calm down, and to conduct his analysis while he sent down stormtroopers to secure the site and flush out their enemies.
Suddenly, as they proceeded, all comlinks started to emit bursts of static, making communications impossible. Fearing yet another assault, and fed up with wasting the lives of his men, Barris then ordered to forcefully embark the whole of the encampment into the landing crafts, and to return to the Strikefast. At the same time, reports came in from the stormtroopers that one of them was missing.
Barris' team complied, and before embarking, the colonel turned to one of the stormtroopers to announce they were leaving. To his horror, the trooper was then utterly annihilated by yet another explosion, leaving only small bits of his armor behind. Barris then ordered to take off ASAP, fearing an all-out assault. However they made it back to the Strikefast without further incidents.
Once aboard, a dejected Barris faced Parck, defending his decision of leaving, and expecting a serious reprimand. Parck, merely ordered the docking bay to be deserted and bade Barris to follow him to the bay control tower. There they waited in darkness for a few hours until a lone figure emerged hesitantly from the transports. Parck then ordered a squad of stormtroopers to take the intruder into custody.
Moments later, the intruder, actually Thrawn, was brought before both officers. There he explained his exile, his desire to continue defending his people no matter what, and his strategy to force down stormtroopers, so he could steal one of their armors and sneak on the spaceships. Impressed by his resourcefulness, Parck then proposed to Thrawn to be brought before the Emperor, to whom he could be a valuable asset, and from whom he could get the means to defend his people. Barris scoffed at the idea, saying the Emperor would never employ an alien, which prompted Parck to give his word that he would release Thrawn wherever he wanted to go in case the Emperor refused. Thrawn agreed, and Parck ordered his ship back to Coruscant immediately, much to the surprise of Booster Terrik.
Behind the scenes
After Walt Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the old expanded universe was rebranded into "Legends", with both "Mist Encounter" and Thrawn deemed no longer canon along with the rest of the continuity. In 2016 however, Thrawn was made canon once again, and a year later a book about him was written by Zahn. The first two chapters of the book are in fact almost an exact retelling of "Mist Encounter", down to each individual character, with only a few alterations, such as the incorporation of the POV character Eli Vanto and the changing of the Strikefast from a Victory-class Star Destroyer to a Venator-class Star Destroyer. In 2018, the novel was adapted into a comic; the first issue adapted the sections of the novel corresponding to "Mist Encounter", with artist Luke Ross basing his depictions of Thrawn and Parck on Doug Shuler's illustrations of them from the original 1995 short story.
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