Back Drifting

Prologue: Awakening

There was the sense of another consciousness. The sense that Obi-Wan had of it, was juvenile, underdeveloped and vastly curious. Yet, also familiar. As his consciousness was aligned with that of this other presence, he felt a melding of some kind as his memories and life experiences were shared with this new being.

In exchange he felt all the awe, wonder and fright that this motivated. The new consciousness, because Obi-Wan could not think of it as his own, was like a trip into his past as a padawan – a trip only travelled in feelings. He once again felt the easy anger of his youth as well as a myriad other emotions, alongside personal shortcomings that he had long since mastered. Anxious, that he was losing something vital in the exchange Obi-Wan tried to separate himself from the 'new consciousness' but found he could not. To his horror he discovered that the emotions that had been shared were now an integral part of his person. The 'new consciousness' was gone, and in its place were all the old feelings of inadequacy, anger and anxiety that had dominated his childhood. It was very much like picking up a heavy load after thirty odd years of carrying nothing.

The shock of it jolted him awake. Yet waking was little better, as his surroundings were suitably white and nightmarishly impersonal. He was lying on a hospital gurney in a featureless circular room. The uniform walls broken only by double doors. The lighting was overly bright, and his eyes were already stinging. There was the distant sound of waves crashing. It seemed a very lonely place, and not at all welcoming, after ...? An impression of burning briefly flittered through his consciousness, accompanied by nausea. Obi-Wan resisted the urge to hold his head in his hands. Pain. Lava. The thrum of a lightsaber. He had died? But no, that couldn't be true, could it? He was here now, alive, and seemingly unharmed. He couldn't argue with logic. It was all very puzzling.

Obi-Wan quickly corrected the misconception when he moved to get off the hospital gurney, and froze noticing his hands. They were small and pudgy. His arms were likewise foreshortened. Obi-Wan drew in a harsh breath, shutting his eyes, before forcing them open again. Perhaps, they wouldn't lie this time? He'd just awoken after all, and disorientation was likely inducing these hallucinations.

Once opened, he focused his attention onto his legs this time. They too had undergone a similar transformation. It wasn't difficult to surmise the reality of the situation, yet Obi-Wan grappled with the truth for a full five minutes, before accepting what his senses told him. He was no longer a man. He was now a boy. How had this happened?

One thing seemed clear. He could not stay here, wherever here was – though there was something familiar to his surroundings now that he paid closer attention. It was hard to concentrate on anything other than his new body, but Obi-Wan was patient and managed to do it quite quickly, drawing the Force around him to sense his greater surroundings. Unusually the data being fed back to him was cloudy and indistinct, but it provided enough information to gather his location: Kamino.

Did that mean he was a clone? It was the only answer Obi-Wan thought plausible.

He slid off the gurney with minimal difficulty, but the impact of his feet upon the cold ground provided further problems, as his legs buckled. Obi-Wan lay on the floor, feeling terribly exposed at the physical evidence of his vulnerability. He rubbed at his bare legs, willing them to wake, his senses opened to the Force to warn him of danger.

What it revealed was cold comfort. There was danger everywhere. It permeated the whole complex. Death hung in the air. A lot of life forms had died here recently. Obi-Wan stopped probing, and focused his energies onto his legs instead. It was pointless to try to track any new danger, with the Force so clouded with death and suffering.

Slowly, life began to stir in his atrophied legs? Yet, the process of accelerated healing was not the swift process it should have been. It was taking all the energy he possessed, and he could feel sweat beading upon his forehead. It seemed his connection to the Force was effected in more ways than first thought.

Obi-Wan could remember a time when his grasp of the Force was just as tenuous. Just how old was he? He was likely no more than ten standard years if his grasp of the Force was any indication, but without the right equipment or even a simple reflective surface, it was impossible to divine his exact age. Of course, there was the good possibility that those responsible knew the answer. The problem being that Obi-Wan didn't trust them. His memory might be shaky, but he was sure he would never have agreed to this. His ethics would have forbid it. Now, his priority was clear. Escape the premises, without attracting notice. Information could be gathered later, in less hostile circumstances.

He still had the Force, and most of his prior knowledge, but the flesh was weak, young and most importantly a stranger. It was a struggle just to stand, but Obi-Wan managed to use the gurney legs to claw himself upright. Obi-Wan did not know this body, and he kept stumbling as his mind insisted that he was a tall, fully grown man, and what's more in perfect tune to the Force.

The Force was intermittent and unreliable now. Not the dependable friend it had been. Obi-Wan could already feel the rising frustration, and this too was new, because he usually had such a good handle on his emotions. Could his memories of the merge be more than a dream? It was beginning to seem more and more likely. And what of the moral question? Hadn't he just usurped the consciousness of another person? These were all questions for another time. Right now he needed to prioritise. Decided upon his course of action, Obi-Wan quickly tottered over to the double doors.

It was then that they opened. Obi-Wan automatically craned his neck upwards to look at the handsome man they revealed. Strange, that the action did not feel foreign. The human was dressed all in black, and carried two lightsabers on his belt. He was very familiar, dangerously so. Without warning, his heart began to beat faster, as he struggled to remember this person. His memories were still a little fuzzy, but were beginning to focus in the face of danger.

Anakin Skywalker, his mind suddenly provided. Followed swiftly by memories of pain, and of burning. This man had hurt him, grievously. With the knowledge came the realisation that this was the man that had left him for dead. Obi-Wan took in a panicked breath then, and was alarmed at his slip in emotion.

The choked sound drew Anakin's attention, and he cringed under the concentrated gaze.

He was going to die again, he realised.