A/N: Hello there! This is a little present for AmythistAngel07 - who has twenty-something original characters who are pretty good. And fun to write with. I hope I handled these characters well. Please take note that this story DOES NOT take place in Angel's main storyline. It is completely ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Are we clear? Excellent.
Excuse my habit of referring to Marianne and Herald by their full names; it's just something I do. And for the sake of this story, I hope you cry.
Goodness, I hope Angel doesn't hate me for doing this.
I don't own "Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!" (Which belongs to a dude named Ciro Nieli, who I don't know anything about except that he has a funny name.) I don't own Marianne, Herald, and the rest of the original characters which, as you know, belong to AmythistAngel07. (Whose name is not so funny, but...sparkly sounding...For lack of a better word.)
My Brother's Keeper
The demonic, black tapestry of clouds overhead bore the weight of rain. Marianne peered up skeptically. She didn't have much time. If this mission she'd set upon herself would be successful, she had to hurry.
She kicked her way through the undergrowth of the jungle, panting, and wondering why the hell she was doing this in the first place. It wasn't like it was her problem. If her brother decided to go wandering out in the forest alone, that was his choice. The adults were searching, anyways. No doubt they didn't want one child lost out here, let alone two. Maybe Alistair had had a point. Maybe she should've stayed at the Robot...
A hellish wind suddenly picked up, weaving in between the trees like it was searching for her specifically. She held onto the nearest trunk. The storm clouds were assembling, about to collaborate to put on the performance of their meager lives. Marianne's dormant animal instincts told her to run – find shelter! But instead she went onwards. She brushed against sharp twigs that stung and left behind red gashes. She found herself in a dense section of these bushes. Determined, Marianne ran for it, putting aside all thoughts of pain. Finally, she came out; tripping over a steep slope and into a muddy stream.
'LIL'G!' Marianne shouted, cupping her hands around her mouth.
As if mocking her, the wind whistled in her ears. For a split second she thought it carried with it the sound of his voice. But in reality there was nothing. There never was anything.
She inhaled deeply. 'LIL'G!' Marianne's voice cracked. 'HERALD! WHERE ARE YOU?!'
The terrifying silence followed. Marianne thought she felt a raindrop on her head. The jungle before her did not look any more promising then the one behind her. Dead trees, branches, mud, and leaves swelled up on the ground. The vacant, twisted stream carved a small passage though the forest. Then his voice, almost unheard, from somewhere up the broken path ahead of her. Her heart skipped a beat. Marianne began to run. She slipped, getting another face full of mud. She didn't care. All she thought about was getting to that voice, growing ever louder.
'Mary?' he said. 'Hey! I'm over here!'
Something emerged from the bushes. Marianne slammed into a Persian blue Robot Monkey. A mere child, two years younger then her.
'Lil'G!' Marianne gasped. Herald was draped over her legs, his knees scabbed from what must've been a nasty fall. His face was bruised and swollen up. And yet despite this, he was beaming.
'Hi, Mary!' Herald grinned.
'Ge'off,' Marianne shoved him away.
'Look at what I found!' He held up his hands. In them, he held three exact purple crystals. Even though the sky was dark they sparked mysteriously. 'It's for Dad! It's a sample of some minerals! I figured I'd give them to him for Father's –'
Marianne snatched his arm. He took a step back, but she wasn't about to let him get away that easily.
'You wandered into the jungle to get mineral samples for Dad?!' Marianne growled between clenched teeth. 'Do you know what the grown-ups are doing right now? They're scouring the jungle, looking for YOU! You've been gone for hours! Do you know how worried we were?! What if there are Formless out here?! Why didn't you think, you crazy little idiot!'
Herald's eyes steadily watered. '...I –'
'"I" what?!' screamed Marianne. '"I'm sorry?!" That isn't gonna cut it, Herald Gibson!'
And just like that, the rain started. It came down like a monsoon. Marianne looked at the sky, releasing her brother's arm.
'Let's go,' she snapped. 'Walk in front of me.'
So began their long trudge back to the Robots. Marianne walked three paces behind her brother; three paces as he marched through the muddy path, and back up the slope she'd fallen down. The forest of bushes was easier to navigate going back. Her journey through it had cleared a fairly wide path. She hadn't realized she'd been that frantic. Marianne just hoped she would remember the landmarks she'd burned into her memory. Or that the rain didn't cover up her tracks.
Her mind raced. But the Gibsons walked in relative silence, shattered only by the brewing storm and the faint sound of their feet in mud. She did not move her gaze away from the back of Herald's head. They were probably going to get lost. All because that little bugger couldn't keep still or know when to ask for help. What had he been thinking?!
And, sure enough, she looked around and didn't recognize the location. Herald had stopped, as well. His expression was just as worried as hers must be.
'Let's keeping moving,' she said. 'The grown-ups will find us eventually.'
'...Uh, Mary...Mary, I –' Herald started.
'Don't "Mary" me! You're in big trouble!'
His expression became contorted. His hands formed fists. 'Stop talking to me like you're Mom! Will you listen to me, please?!'
'Herald, I don't know!' she shouted, waving her arms hysterically. 'I spent two hours with the others wondering if you'd gotten lost or fallen into a ditch or gotten eaten or something else just as horrible! I was worried sick! You should've seen Mom and Dad's faces when they realized you'd gone missing!'
'I didn't know how much time had past!' yelled Herald. 'I didn't do this on purpose! It's...Dad got mad at me the other day because I messed around with some of his rock samples! I figured that if I got some new ones he wouldn't be mad anymore!'
'That's it?! You stupid kid!'
'Don't call me stupid, Marianne!'
'Don't call me Marianne!'
'Why not?! You call me "Herald" whenever we're fighting!'
They glared at each other, mere inches from the other's snout. Finally, exasperated, they sat at the path's edge on a pair of rocks. It was like they'd been made for this moment. Marianne and Herald both held their heads in their hands, completely oblivious to the rain. It was a pitiful – and darkly humourous – site.
Out of the corner of her eye, Marianne spotted a frog that hopped into view. It began to wallow in the mud. At first it was alone. Then more emerged from the bushes opposite, like some plague. They croaked their unusual songs, in perfect synchronization with the rain. She became aware of her hunger. She hadn't eaten anything since lunch some six hours previous.
Something landed on her head. Marianne winced and peered up, managing to make out a frog that had decided she was a good place to sit. Herald also stared at it. He began to laugh.
Marianne and Herald exchanged a mischievous look and dived into the mud. The frogs scattered. She reached out and grabbed one, the creature easily slipping through her metallic fingers. Every single green frog she locked onto, she dived at. Herald did the same. It wasn't long before they hit each other in the head, having gone for the same frog. The frog in question bounced away. Their song became nothing but the rain, and they were left to sit in the mud.
She stared at her brother. He stared right back. Both their onyx eyes reflected sadness and joy. A tear ran down the side of Herald's face, mixing in with the raindrops.
'Hey,' Marianne said. Gently placing a hand on his head, they touched foreheads. 'I'm sorry I yelled at you. I was just scared, that's all.'
'I know,' sighed Herald.
They sat like that for an indefinite amount of time. Marianne relished in hearing her brother take slow, steady breaths. They hadn't changed since he was the infant curled up in a cradle.
'I'm sorry I went out alone,' said Herald. 'Guess I wasn't really thinking.'
'Bah, even Dad has his moments when he doesn't think,' Marianne pulled away.
'They're gonna be really mad at us. Or worse, disappointed.'
'Yeah, the difference between mad and disappointed is that mad goes away,' Marianne observed.
Herald examined his lilac-coloured crystals. He picked up one up, examined it, and took his sister's hand. The chosen stone was dropped into it.
'What's this for?' asked Marianne.
'An apology,' said Herald. 'You can keep it. I'll give the rest to Dad.'
'Speaking of Dad,' Marianne looked up. In the distance, they heard some shouting. In passing it sounded like their names. 'I think that's him. And Uncle Otto!'
'Finally,' Herald stood. 'I'd like to get out of the rain.'
Marianne held her brother's hand and headed towards the voices.
Autumn leaves and twigs tumbled over the hillside. Wind announced an oncoming storm. From the top of a lonely, grassy hill, Marianne spotted the distant storm clouds starting to stir up trouble. It reminded her a time of when she was twelve, and searching for her brother in the Savage Lands.
Of course, she'd grown since then. Grown into a beautiful Egyptian blue Robot Monkey, standing in the midst of tall, green grass. From here you could see the mansion. Shuggazoom was also there, its highest towers covered by those clouds. The park spread out in all directions; mostly forest and grassland. Across the way, the jungle. She rubbed her arms. It was chilly. The location was secluded and quiet, yet also within walking distance. She could come here whenever she felt like it.
She glanced at Alistair, at her shoulder.
'I'd like to be alone for a minute,' she whispered.
'The others are waiting,' Alistair reminded her.
At the foot of the hill, she spotted the rest of their extended family. She saw her father, being hugged by Sprx – of all things. Gilson was nearby, holding onto Melody. The first and second generation were all comforting each other. Elliot was probably the worse of them all – tears of blood scarring her face, like she hadn't slept in days. (Which was probably true.) Preparing for the final leg of their long day. The dinner, sponsored by the citizens of Shuggazoom. Marianne wished she had a good enough excuse to not attend it.
'I know,' Marianne finally said. 'I'll just be a minute. Wait here for me, okay?'
Alistair nodded and took a step back. He, too, looked like he might burst into tears at any moment. She knew him well enough to know that he'd want to be alone for that.
Marianne clambered back up the hill. It felt longer then it had before the service. She climbed like she was climbing a mountain. Only the thing that separated her from a mountain climber was that she did not want to reach the top.
But she made it. Somehow. She didn't really remember starting in the first place. Marianne weaved between the pearl white chairs set out for the occasion, just enough to accommodate their family. She reached the place where the ground was freshly disturbed. Despite knowing that she might throw up if she did so, she stood at the far end of the soil, placed there just this morning. The coffin was somewhere beneath all that.
How to describe the coffin? It was painted a rich, royal blue, lined with gold. More money then it was actually worth.
She didn't know what to say.
All this time, planning out this moment, and she didn't know what to say.
She remembered when they were just kids. Marianne had an odd fetish about her. She took stickers and stuck them all over her brother, as though he was some toy.
They'd catch frogs together. Like the day he'd gotten lost in the forest.
They'd explore, laugh, and support each other. Herald had helped her when she was having a frustrating bout of Writer's Block, mostly by cheering her up. Marianne had based a character off of him. The kind, lead male in her novel. Her editor loved that character.
Then they were comrades. They fought Skeleton King and other forces of evil, side by side. Marianne and Herald had saved each other's lives on numerous occasions.
She'd never really thought about it, before, but Herald was one of the most important influences on her life.
Marianne forced herself to look at the gravestone.
It was so weird just reading it. He was only twenty-one.
'How could you leave like this?' Marianne asked. 'Elliot loves you more then anything. How could you just leave us like this?!'
She picked up a stone that was conventionally nearby. She chucked it at the gravestone. It bounced off.
Marianne sighed, trying to control herself. No, it wasn't his fault. He hadn't ask to.
'Mary, you idiot!' she hissed. 'You were standing right there! You couldn't just reach out and pull him out of the way! Herald's not the idiot, you are, you stupid girl! You let your baby brother go!'
The memory passed before her eyes. Herald was staring at her, eyes wide as he realized what had happened. Marianne was screaming his name. But she didn't even know that she was. The only reason she knew she was screaming was because Alistair had said so. He said it was the scariest thing he had ever heard...
Marianne held up the fist. She opened it to stare at the lilac mineral her brother had once given her. Without thinking, she stepped over to the gravestone and placed in on the base.
'An apology,' she said. 'You can keep it.'
The storm began. The rain fell around her. For that moment, Marianne felt like her whole existence was meaningless.