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He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief as the sheer presence of the Force overwhelmed him, taking him from the indignity his life had become and cradling him in its loving presence. No more agonizingly-long blistering-hot days on that dust ball of a planet, his many lonely hours spent in total isolation with only the threatening presence of the Tusken Raiders to keep him company. No more gut-wrenching fluctuations of the Living Force as he felt yet another of his former comrades and friends cut down by his apprentice. No more would he be forced to hear about the horrible atrocities that the Empire, under the steel-fisted execution of Sidious and Anakin, had committed.
He was finally free. The Rebellion had won, Sidious was dead, and Anakin was redeemed. Luke Skywalker had succeeded in correcting all the errors that one young Knight's arrogance had inflicted on the galaxy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi had finally found the oblivion he so desperately craved.
His eyes fluttered open slowly, and he blinked several times in his attempt to focus on the strange new environment. Is this the Force? he wondered, not truly expecting an answer. He stood in the middle of a lush paradise full of diversity rarely, if ever, seen. Although he could see no signs of animal life, the rich melody of birdsong filling the air and the slight rustling of the underbrush spoke of its presence. A softly scented breeze whispered around his still form, gently playing with the loose spikes of his hair.
Spikes? Raising a hand to his head, Obi-Wan was surprised to find his hair cut in the short Padawan style he had not worn since the day his Master died. Tracing the pattern of spikes across to the right side of his head, he was bemused to find the long trailing braid of his much younger years also present. Okay, so if this is the Force, why am I saddled yet again with this horrible hairstyle? Snorting at the incongruity of his own thoughts, he continued to peruse his appearance. His Jedi tunics were firmly in place, and the lightsaber hilt he had lost that fateful day on Naboo was affixed to his utility belt as if it had never been gone. Even the knee-high boots were the same worn and scuffed leather he remembered so vividly.
"Where am I?" he muttered, not realizing that he had spoken aloud until a soft voice answered.
"You are exactly where you need to be, young Jedi."
Spinning around to face the unexpected presence, Obi-Wan came face to face with a startlingly ethereal figure. Her long silver hair reached well below her waist and her deep indigo eyes spoke of an almost disturbingly powerful wisdom. Her slim and willowy figure was wrapped in a light yellow robe, made of some wispy, yet opaque material.
"I don't understand," Obi-Wan stated, "is this the Force?" Wincing at his own bluntness, he was dismayed to find that the imperiousness of his youth had also returned, along with the physical aspects.
"In a manner of speaking, yes this is the Force," the woman answered softly. "Actually, you could call this more a gift of the Force, than an actual manifestation of it."
"And you are?" he questioned, unwittingly taking a step closer to her, drawn to her like a moth to the flame.
"You may call me Natira," she stated graciously. "I am here to guide you, and to help you in your decision."
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are much loved of the Force, and yet your life was painful at the best of times," Natira sighed. "You never wavered in your commitment however, and you worked to fulfill the will of the Force until your very last breath, and even beyond that." Lifting her hand to his face, her silk-soft hand caressed the furrow that had developed between his brows, effectively halting the questions she knew he wished to ask.
"Your life served a purpose for the greater good, whether or not you are willing to accept it," she explained. "And though you made mistakes, and you oftentimes made things more difficult for yourself than was necessary, you persevered until the end. And for that, and all of the pain you have suffered, you have earned the right to make a choice."
Spellbound by her lilting voice and the soft hand that affectionately stroked his forehead, as a mother would for her ill child, Obi-Wan found himself unwilling, and unable to ask all the questions that her declaration inspired. Instead he simply leaned gently into her embrace, accepting the solace she offered, and for the first time in a long, long time truly felt loved.
For her part, Natira simply held the life-weary young man, offering him all the comfort that she could give until he was ready to accept this opportunity. Several hours passed in silence, with the only change occurring when Natira slowly slipped to her knees, pulling Obi-Wan down with her and continuing to cradle his beleaguered spirit.
When he began to gently remove himself from her embrace, she knew that he was ready to face the choices the Force was offering to him. "What am I to choose?" he asked softly, sitting back on his heels so that he could better judge the expression of her delicate features.
"You speak as if you expect to face an ordeal, young one," she laughed, the tinkling quality of her voice matching effortlessly with the melodic birdcalls.
"Experience has taught me that choice tends to be painful," Obi-Wan admitted, offering his own gentle smile to temper the harshness of his words. "I have learned to always prepare for the worst, so that if it does happen, I am not disappointed or caught off guard."
"Well, my dear, in this instance you have nothing to lose, and so very much to gain," she answered, leaning forward and patting his knee. "You are being given an opportunity that has never before been offered, and will probably never be again, as it is unlikely that we will ever come across such a gentle and committed spirit such as yours again."
"An opportunity to do what?" he questioned, his suspicions represented in his voice.
"You are given an opportunity for one day more," she explained, laughing yet again at his confused expression. "No, not one more day of life but rather the chance to relive one day of your life."
"And do what with it?" Obi-Wan asked, his mind whirling with the possibilities.
"Whatever you wish," she stated, her indigo eyes catching and holding his own stormy gaze. "You can affect any change you wish or redo any experience you feel might have made your life better."
"But you said that I have 'nothing to lose'?" he inquired. "What happens if I make a wrong choice, and inadvertently make things worse?"
"That's why you will be given three opportunities," Natira continued. "You will be able to relive three different days of your life, changing them however you can, and then living through an accelerated version of the outcome. At the end of your three experiences, you will make one final choice."
"And that choice would be?"
"You get to choose which life you would like to experience," Natira stated, smiling at the joy in his eyes that she had seen so rarely throughout his turbulent life. "And you will finally have the chance to live the life you truly deserved."