We shall attempt to write as much about our female lead, Rachael as we possibly can at this early juncture.
We can either begin with where she is at the beginning of the opera, 18 and just being released from the asylum, or at her birth.
There’s not much i can say about her birth in the interests of not revealing too much. Her birth was not without noteworthy incident, but since she herself does not know the actual details, we can be forgiven for skipping over them.
Rachael is an orphan and was raised in a private home by Mrs Hanson, along with 6 other girls. Rachael is unaware that she has a trust fund established for her by the now defunct Avalon Corporation. All the children in Mrs. Hanson’s small boarding house do, and there are a several other homes besides this one.
Mrs. Hanson’s house has a rather tight, almost religious air, although it is impossible to say what religion. Mrs. Hanson is careful to keep her Voodoopunk faith quiet. There is not a stigma regarding the Voodoopunks like there was a few generations previously, but given that some years before, about a generation after the civil war ended, the Voodoopunks reached their peak in New Albion, were a major cultural player and then almost overnight just died out or faded into obscurity (though why no one can quite say), the remaining Voodopunks are strangely quiet and reserved about their faith.
Mrs Hanson is indeed devout and very loyal to both her faith and the responsibilities trusted upon her by the now defunct Avalon Corporation.
Thus Rachael grew up in a house with a warm enough atmosphere, although one would not quite use the word loving. She missed the basic love of a father or mother, and the other girls sometimes came and went, depriving her of the ability to truly have life long sibling bonds. Although this effected her and how she grew up deeply, she didn’t care as much as some of the other children. She knew she was loved. The radio told her so.
Rachael believes the radio has sung her songs throughout her young life, specifically to her in an attempt to tell her it loved her. The other girls in the home have reacted in various ways to this, from shrugging their shoulders over the eccentricity which was in comparison no more weird than a number of quirks girls in the system possessed, to some teasing and mocking. Rachael learned to keep a little bit of a lid on it, although the teasing never really bothered her too much. This was however before the… the Trouble.
Rachael is immensely curious. She devours mystery books with a passion. She began exploring the entirety of Mrs. Hanson’s house at a very early age, and quickly found the underground tunnels beneath it which go beneath not only the entire block, but the neighborhood and beyond. She has seen some quite strange things in these tunnels during her explorations.
There are other girls who enjoyed coming with her on her mystery excursions, but often the others would have a desire to ultimately perform some sort of mischief or crime, such as thievery. Rachael has no such motive, she enjoys the pursuit and intrigue for it’s own sake. She loves puzzles, learning secrets or piecing together peoples’ hidden motives.
Is it not simply the aquirement of some unknown, hidden piece of information that most delights her, it is the pursuit,the act of doing the puzzle itself. Make the aquirement of a hidden secret enormously complicated, with as many hoops to jump through as possible and she will be enthralled and in heaven.
She knows of course one day she will tackle and find the answer to the mysterious signal that sings to her at night from the radio.
Growing up in the system with a revolving group of girls as housemates affects everyone. No parents, no deep, intimate connection with a mother and father, only a warm authroity figure and sibling type peers who can stay anywhere from a few years to a few weeks leaves its mark on different girls and boys in different ways.
Rachael has a great deal of social anxiety, especially in group situations, which is ironic considering her talent for reading people and social cues. She is enormously perceptive at putting together peoples’ internal mental states, and on some level assumes others can read her just as easily, which is far from the case. She assumes they can easily read her, will judge her and find her laughably lacking which makes her uncomfortable and awkwardly self conscious. Add to this the fact that she picks up an incredbile amount of information even in the minutae of peoples’ behavior to being with and this information overload along with her deep, deep insecurity makes her very anxious and uncomfortable in group situations, resulting in anxiety attacks on occasion.
Rachael can be shy and stressed out, keeping a tight lid on her anger and expression. Thus sometimes her anger and frustration can just come pouring out. When it does she can lose a bit of self control and often can be a bit destructive, even self destructive in these moments.
Rachael is a cutter. When upset she will sometimes hole herself up and trace the letters RFE into her thigh with a razor. The other girls know about this (they have their idiosyncricies too) and assume it to be Rachael’s initials.
Despite all this, Rachael is not that suseptable to teasing. It doesn’t work on her very well, making it often times useless as her adolescent housemates obsessively practice it, as teenagers do, to establish pecking order and dominance. She is obsessed with puzzles, secrets and motives. Thus, she often knows her housemates’ dirty little secrets, the ones they think no one else does. It is to Rachael’s credit that she rarely ever uses them against anyone, or even ever lets the person onto the fact that she knows. What it does do is give her inner emotional leverage. When you know someone’s deep dark secret which could potentially devastate them and all they can do is tease you over the most petty, insignificant thing, it puts a certain perspective on things that allows Rachael to rarely care about the idiotic things her housemates focus on to tease her about. The girls rarely tease her about the things she is actually anxious about and for those few times some power hungry girl is bent on breaking Rachael, a few well dropped allusions to her deepest and darkest of secrets will usually shut them up quite handily.
It is important to point out that we are thus far talking about a 15 to 16 year old girl. It is about this time that the events occur which will take us to Rachael’s 18th birthday when the Atompunk Opera begins.
The Home has its benefactors, including a politician or two. We are not at liberty to name names, but there is a New Albion politician, a member of City Parliament who donates money and time to the cause of lost, wayward youth. He tours some of the homes. Sometimes he finds a special girl with whom he makes a… special bond.
He made just such a bond with Rachael.
He showed her a great deal of carefully practiced attention and gifts, taking her out to see parts of the city of New Albion she never had a chance to see or experience before. She had never had a father or even a father figure and her experience with boys was limited at best. She was 15, shy and at her most romantically vulnerable.
He and his strange world did make her uncomfortable, and to her he was kind of old, old not is a 60 something way, but in the way late 30s is old to a 15 year old. Still, he was fit, charming and the doorway to a great, grand, larger world. It was impossible to resist when he finally got to the straight out seduction part of his carefully rehearsed routine.
Didn’t she see his motive coming a mile away? Of course. But attention, romance, excitement and sex too? What was there not to like? She was too inexperienced to see what a carefully rehearsed, by the numbers routine his attention was, or that the thrill he clearly exhibited was only the pure pursuit of the forbidden fruit, and at its heart utterly selfish.
They had several sexual liasons. The unnanmed politician was not as cautious as he should have been and Rachael became pregnant at 16.
Such matters made public would be obviously disasterous for his career, but fortunately the solution was quite simple. He arranged for a car to pick her up and drive her to the special doctor who would “take care” of the situation.
Rachael refused. She decided, sensible or not, that she wanted to have the baby. She would not ask him for anything regarding it, but she wanted to keep it and would.
A baby the politician had sired, born out of wedlock to an underage orphan girl at one of the very homes he helped raise funds for… one need have only the most passing familiarity with politics to see the glaring problem with this situation. It was out of the question.
Rachael’s refusal to abort was interpretted as an act of war and met accordingly.
Everything about her was a matter of record, from her cutting to her claims about the radio singing love songs to her. One day men from the New Albion Psychiatric Asylum showed up with official documents for her to be committed. She was put in the asylum involuntarily at age 16 where, early in her stay, she was given strong drugs, knocked out for a few days and the matter of the baby done away with once and for all. Claims she made that she ever was pregnant to begin with were put on her papers as part of her delusions, just like the radio.
She spent two years there. On her 18th birthday she is released, since as a legal adult, she cannot be held involuntarily anymore.
Rachael is still not aware that a trust has been set aside for her by the long defunct and forgotten Avalon Corp or that although the corporation closed its doors and disappeared almost overnight 2 decades ago, certain aspects of it do in fact remain functioning and continue to pay close attention to her as well as other children. All she knows is she is now 18, and for the first time in 2 years able to finally leave the asylum where she has been sadly locked away. It is here our opera begins.