The Dark Apprentice

Chapter 1

The Dark Apprentice sat, alone, in the cockpit of the Rogue Shadow as he stared at the planet before him. Through memory flashes of his previous incarnation, he'd seen many planets worthy of the moniker 'beautiful', but this one took the cake. Glistening seas that rippled between navy and turquoise, rolling tracts of land that shifted from earthy browns to verdant greens and stark, sharp white. Not one planet held the chaotic homage to nature herself, in Known Space. Here in the Unknown Regions, worlds were unpopulated by civilised species. They were, however, infested with insectoid Kiliks and original Sith remnants. This planet, however, was different. This planet held a population of Force-users, ones with preternatural control over the Force. That, and they had next to no advanced technology.

His latest mission given to him by his Master, Darth Vader, was to collect Sith relics and artefacts from the Unknown Regions in preparation for his latest usurpation. Force knew what he was going to do with that junk. Not that he'd ever get it.

The Dark Apprentice sat in his cockpit, alone, as his ship drifted over the planet. He could descend to the surface, and rule as a king over peasants. He could wage war until the world drowned in blood. That, or he could take his own apprentice. He hated his Master for forcing him to kill Galen Marek- his brother-clone. He did not have the psychological hatred of life that most Sith did. Only hatred of his Master. The man who'd forced him into a cell little larger than himself, sent electrical currents through him every time drowsiness crept over him, who starved him into Force-comas, the monster who made a man kill his brother. He could feel the Dark Side calling to him, just as the Light Side did. Neither would win. He was his own man now. Vader couldn't find him here, anyway.

From below, a sudden cry for help pierced his senses. It was animalistic, in a sense, for it had no particular focus. Interested, Galen's clone turned his attention to it. Conflicting emotions and images became clearer: a dark space beneath a set of stairs, which felt safe. The same dark space, with creeping darkness, and terror of the night. An over-bearing, overweight man, spittle flying, a meaty fist emerging out of the blur behind. A stick-thin woman, fear and hatred radiating out from her. A small, blonde boy, laughing as he beat upon a small, frail-looking child.

Not even in his darkest trials, had Vader mindlessly beaten him. He had always had the mind to make himself stronger. But that only began once he could take hardship like that- he had food, he had conversation, he had something akin to fatherly love from the man behind the mask. Not in so many words or actions, but the man had saved him from death at the hands of stormtroopers.

Pity rang out through the Force. Not from Earth, but from the Rogue Shadow. Pity, swiftly followed by righteous anger.

The Rogue Shadow angled down towards Earth, stealth drives engaged. The Dark Apprentice would not allow this to continue. Not to one so powerful in the Force, who could already rival himself in terms of raw power.

Harry Potter lay curled up on his small, roll-out mattress in the cupboard under the stairs. The light from the hall did not shine into the cramped and dusty space, nor was there a light bulb in there. The boy lay, with nary a whimper to betray the pain he was in. He'd learnt early on not to cry. He'd learnt that before he could walk. If he didn't cry, he may be allowed some food.

The boy couldn't move for fear of making a sound. If he moved, he'd scream. You see, Harry Potter was no ordinary boy. No, this boy had broken more bones than most stunt drivers. Six broken ribs. Both shoulder blades fractured. Toes crushed. Fingers bent. Arms crooked. Name it, and the boy had probably broken it.

Correction. He'd had to sit there and take it silently while they were broken for him. Doctors weren't allowed. A 'waste of money and time. And time is money!' according to Mr. Dursley. If it wasn't for the Otherness that healed the boy every night, he would long be dead, he feared.

Another reason the boy was like no other- he knew of death, oh yes. You could say he was well acquainted. If you asked him where his parents were, he'd only answer 'In the place where dead people go. The ground.' and hear no more of that person's surprise. He did not say 'passed away' or 'somewhere else'. But this is by the by. What we are steering towards is the one moment of Harry Potter's short life in which he will remember first feeling happy.

This is how it came about.

There was a light knock on the front door of Number 4 Privet Drive, startling the normal family within. Nobody called this late, not even Mr. Bubbage from Number 5 who needed a drill most days. Mr. Dursley heaved himself to his feet, and wove unsteadily to the door. The knocking repeated itself.

"I'm coming, I'm coming! Hold your horses, or you'll scratch the paint!" Mr. Dursley called through the door. The blurry silhouette of a tall man could be seen through the privacy glass in the normal front door. Mr. Dursley made it to the door in record time of nearly thirty seconds, and started to unchain it from the jamb. "Just one second, and I'll be there. You never know who could come knocking, you know…"

The poor man was muttering to himself again. This, of course, is completely normal. He heaved open the front door to reveal a young, but tall man standing in the darkness of the midwinter night. A blacker than black cloak hung over his shoulders, hiding the rest of his body from view.

"May I help you, sir? Is there a reason you are knocking so late in the evening? Has your car broken down?" Mr. Dursley asked.

"No. You may not help. You have done enough damage already. Step aside." The young man waved his hand across the fatter male's eyes, which promptly misted over. The fat man wobbled back into the sitting room, completely unaware of the intruder.

The Dark Apprentice swept through the hallway, until he came to the cupboard under the stairs. He could feel the Dark Side of the Force resonating within, it was a wonder the other Force-users on this planet couldn't sense it. The young man crouched down next to the cupboard, debating his best course of action. Coming to a conclusion, he knocked lightly on the door.

"Mr. Potter, I am about to open the door to your room. Please, do not move, I do not wish you harm. I'm here to look after you. I'm here to take you away from these people. Would you like that?" A muffled reply came from within. Without the Force to aid him, he would never have caught the assent. The Dark Apprentice slid the numerous bolts back, and slowly opened the door. Inside, he saw a sight even his void-cold heart had trouble turning away. Shutting off his emotions from his actions, he used the Force to lift the bundle of bones and skin into the air, and he walked out of Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, and into his Rogue Shadow. Inside, he laid the boy down on a medical table. Turning, he opened a bacta tank and lifted the boy into it. There was no time to be nice and tell him to breathe normally. He only wished that he knew what he was doing.

Exposure to bacta tanks should be limited to a day at a time. Some medical facilities extended this, but they were radicals. Harry had been in the bacta tank for nearly a week. The occasional crack could be heard echoing through the ship as the bacteria caused his bones to re-break and mend in the right position.

The Dark Apprentice had not slept in all the time that the boy had been in the tank. It looked to be the first of many weeks kept awake by the random popping and snappings of bones.

Harry weaved in and out of consciousness. He felt no pain for the first time in living memory. He dreamed of green flashing lights, his mum playing hide-and-seek too well, and flying through the night on a motorbike. He breathed through a small mouthpiece clenched between his teeth, releasing bubbles on every exhale. He dreamed of flashing sticks, and lightning arcing across the sky. He dreamed of the stars.

A/N: First thing I've published in around a year, I know. With too much time on my hands, you'll hopefully be reading a lot more sometime soon!