I don’t normally discuss other people’s characters in my blog posts (except this one), but nick22 has a certain OC who I’ve never given the spotlight until now. While cataloging the timelines for Emilena and Flora, I realized that Rose is probably the third most frequently-appearing character across the Into the Black franchise. Part of that is her author’s dedication to the roleplays, but I’ve also found myself frequently using her in my own writing because she fits into a lot of different plots.
Despite appearing in the first RP, Rose wouldn’t get a character sheet until the sequel Racing the Storm.
The first thing I liked about nick’s characterization for Rose is that she begins the story incredibly flawed, as a drug addict currently working as a stripper who hates her job. That’s a far cry from every other author’s starting character; Soren, Emilena, Axel, and Marita are all living relatively-happy lives in a field of study that motivates them. I also like how her main-character status subverts the common trope of making sex workers disposable side characters. This particular trope (along with Bury Your Gays, which Rose also qualifies for) has always bugged the hell out of me because it seems to stem from outdated conservative notions that Hollywood needs to get the fuck over.
Over the course of the plot, Rose’s working establishment is destroyed and (like everyone else) she can’t get a new job because she’s too busy surviving the government/terrorist-fueled conspiracy that dominates the first RP. But her dancing/performance background repeatedly comes into play as she turns into the team’s chameleon, capable of using charisma and guile to infiltrate places the others can’t strong-arm their way into (even spending a large part of Blanking the Slate undercover as an employee of the primary antagonists). Maybe it’s just because bards are my favorite D&D class, but this element of her character was always fun and part of the reason I used her in multiple stories of my own.
When bushwacked and I added Lily’s clone into Blanking the Slate, I had the terrible idea to name her Rose. I thought it would be symbolic, both because they’re named after flowers and because she struggles with being a copycat so it’d be meta that even her name already belongs to a real character. But to nobody’s surprise, it got confusing the millisecond she entered the field and she was referred to as “Lily’s clone” exclusively after a single scene.
Now, I couldn’t port Rose over directly to my own stories, because I don’t like borrowing other author’s characters wholecloth, but when I novelized Into the Black (now renamed Electra City), I wanted to keep Rose’s role in the plot. She became Rachel, whereas Marita and Axel were merged into Mason. Mason had a brother-sister bond with Rachel rather than the romantic relationship Marita and Rose originally had, just because Nairda/Emilena and Mason/Lily were already a thing and I wanted more variety in character relations. Of course, Rachel is killed by the pulse bomb at the end of the novel, mostly because everybody else had already died/survived and I needed to kill at least one main character to drive home how catastrophic the Purifier pulse bomb was on Electra.
However, when it came time to novelize Blanking the Slate, I realized I wanted the character to come back, so I lazily noted that she faked her death and Rachel got to return for the sequel novel Tabula Rasa. While she didn’t have as much to do in that book, she became a main character for the tie-in story cycle Echo Chambers, where Rachel and Leah (who was modeled after Marita) travel with Flora to Sartonic. This makes Rachel the only character to appear in all three novels, and gives her a unique arc because she abandons the protagonists at the end of every book, until the last chapter of Echo Chambers where she redeems herself by returning and sacrificing her freedom to save Flora.
Rose transcends the Into the Black canon and crosses into the Insane Cafe as well, because I wanted some sort of character cameo when Aimee and Shakila visit Lanthae in The Approaching Light. Again, Rose’s vulnerable starting state made her an attractive choice for the cameo, as it put her in a situation where she could ask the heroes for help, and then reciprocate to aid them in escaping the city.
Last but not least, she even cameos in the Electra City video game! Press 7 while in the arena and she’ll spawn as a third neutral fighter controlled with the number pad. (She can’t deal damage and dies in one hit, but Rose was never a combat character anyway.) This mostly happened because I felt bad Nick was the only author who didn’t get a playable fighter.
Anyway, I’m not sure why I wrote this, except to delve a little bit into probably the most influential character on my Into the Black writing who wasn’t originally made by me. Today is actually also the sixth anniversary of the first post she appears in. Happy birthday, Rose!