Life had been cruel to poor Rook. She was originally a member of the Blue Angels, a gang in her hometown of Cavern City. She fell for their leader, Romy, who taught her how to ride the motorcycle. She had a falling out with the gang and her lover after complications during a rumble with their rival, the Red Snakes. She left Cavern City a broken woman, leaving her younger sister and mother to fend for themselves. A few years later, she salvaged a red Light Combat Cyclone, which became her signature vehicle as to the "Red Warrior". She became the mysterious, red-garbed freedom fighter and fought the Invid and hostile gangs when she felt like it. She was a lone wolf and found peace as a vigilante.
During this time, her gang was at war with another, a more aggressive gang called the Red Snakes. The Red Snakes were more focused on terrorizing the people while the Blue Angels wanted to help their town in the wake of the Invid's occupation of Earth.
One day, she saw members of the Red Snakes attacking civilians and she attempted to fight them off. Unfortunately, she was overpowered and beaten by the group, Romy never arriving to help her.
After this event, she ran away from the city and started drifting from town to town until she found functional Cyclone armor and started randomly helping civilians from the Invid and other threats such as gangs and criminals. (New Generation: Hard Times)
Third Robotech War
After Scott Bernard and his scavenger ally Rand found themselves tricked and ambushed by the Invid in an abandoned city on a lake, she decided to jump in and help kill the attacking Invid, only to quickly depart in silence to Bernard's dismay.
After leaving the city, she went to a local town, probably to rest and stopped by in a cantina just as a popular singer Yellow Dancer was going to have a concert there, Dancer finishes her song but a couple of local thugs who are not pleased with it ridicule and offend Lancer and then try to beat her. However, they were soundly subdued by her, Dancer and Scott and Rand.
The troubles, however, do not end: Sometime later, the same group of thugs attacks a man named Lunk and his friend, chasing them through the town. Thugs manage to grab and drag away Lunk's friend but Scott once again intervenes and saves Lunk. Following this intervention, Scott, Rand, and Rook prepare for a battle and depart to rescue Lunk's friend. Lunk, Annie, and Lancer follow them.
Before a battle start, however, Invid Shocktroopers arrive on scene and attack. The thugs flee and Scott, Rand and Rook engage the Invid forces. In the middle of the battle, Lunk reveals that he is a certified Robotech maintenance engineer and that he is in possession of a battle-ready Veritech Alpha Fighter. He leads Scott to the fighter's location. Scott pilots the fighter and destroys all remaining Invid units.
After the battle, Lunk joins Scott and his group to fight the Invid. Lancer also reveals that he has combat experience and joins the group as well. Rook does not announce any enthusiasm in battle but also tags along.
Eventually the group would arrive at Rook's hometown where she would finally have some closure with her family and the people that abandoned her.
Rook would go on to fight the Invid alongside the Robotech Rebels through their travels in the American continent and would even join the final battle against the Invid in the Battle of Reflex Point, being one of the people that convinced the Invid Regess to leave Earth.
Rook and Rand married after the end of the war.
A short time later, Scott Bernard and Ariel visited them again and told them about a planned expedition to find Admiral Rick Hunter that was recruiting crew members at the time. Rand grew extremely excited about the concept of the mission.
The four met up with Lunk and Annie LaBelle, and the group visited a surprised Lancer after the end of one of his concerts. Reunited again for one night, Scott and Rand told Lancer about the mission, but Lancer decided to stay on Earth. (Robotech: Love Live Alive!)
Behind the Scenes
It is possible to interpret the characters and designs in Robotech: Crystal Dreams to be an attempt to suggest that Kyle Bartley and Vala Norri would later be the parents of Rook Bartley, as Vala was identical in design to Rook and Kyle shared her last name. However, game creator Chuck Romberger has clarified that this was not meant to be purposeful and that the basis was likely done due to limited designs. He did, however, admit that the idea was interesting. Notably, this would mean that Bartley was part Zentraedi. Unless a Primary or Secondary source visits the idea, this concept is fan speculation and thus non-canon.
Another figure represented to be Rook's father in Robotech media was Ron Bartley, a member of Wolf Pack during the Malcontent Uprisings who appeared in Robotech II: The Sentinels: The Malcontent Uprisings. However, this comic is currently secondary continuity -- basing itself around the defunct pre-2000 timeline which placed the events of the third Robotech saga much later. Because of this, Rook appears as a child of reasonable age, despite the fact that she would not be born until 2024. These discrepancies among others mean that the canonicity of both the comic series and the character are dubious at best.