Ruby Rose gazes out the window of the police airship as it flies over Mantle, then turns and looks at her friends. Nora Valkyrie chews at the bolas restraining her wrists, while everyone else sits silently, the only sounds being Nora's growling and the muffled chattering of the guards piloting the ship.
Ruby: Where do you think they're taking us?
Qrow Branwen: I'm gonna go with jail.
An unfamiliar man sitting with the group finally speaks up.
Forest: Hmm? You guys had a run-in with the Ace-Ops? Ironwood must really have a bone to pick with you.
Weiss: (rolling her eyes) They're not that big of a deal.
Forest: Not that big of a deal!? The Ace-Ops are the elite-of-elite military Huntsmen and Ironwood's personal attack dogs.
Nora: So they got you too, huh?
Forest: Pfft! I wouldn't let myself get caught by them. I'm here because I've been speaking out against Atlas' exploitation of Mantle, and General Ironwood is trying to silence me.
Pilot: You threw a brick at her ship!
Forest: (proudly) It's worth it if it gets people talking about our cause!
The pilot sighs in annoyance.
Blake Belladonna: "Our cause"?
Forest: Yes, the fight for better conditions in Mantle! Lead by the charismatic, talented, lovely Robyn Hill and her Happy Huntresses!
The main pilot presses a button, causing the window between the cab and the back of the ship to begin slowly closing. Forest notices this, stands up and begins frantically shouting to the window so the guards can hear him.
Forest: They were all top Atlas Academy graduates, who could've signed up for the military, but Robyn and the Huntresses chose to stay in Mantle. She's gunning for a seat on the Kingdom's council, and when she gets it, she's gonna put an end to Ironwood's tyranny!
Oscar Pine: Happy… Huntresses?
Yang Xiao Long: Is that their real name?
Weiss: Don't you think "tyranny's" a little dramatic?
Forest turns around to respond and looks surprised upon realizing who had just spoken.
Forest: Easy to say for a Schnee heiress, living comfortably up in Atlas.
Weiss: (sighing sadly) Not anymore.
The airship finally makes it up to the City of Atlas, and Ruby looks out at the city in awe, while Nora is once again chewing her restraints.
Ruby: Whoa, it's gorgeous up here!
Ruby's comment causes Jaune and Nora to leave their seats and look out the window with her.
Weiss: Don't let that fool you.
Forest: (looking at Weiss) Hm?
Forest stands from his seat and looks outside.
Forest: This isn't the police station.
Qrow: It's… Atlas Academy.
The ship docks on a landing pad in front of Atlas Academy and is met by a pair of guards, who open the ship's rear double doors to let Team RWBY, Team JNPR, Oscar and Qrow exit. Ruby gazes up at the towering academy while more guards line up along the path leading to the building.
Ruby: I guess we will be seeing the General. For better or worse.
The group heads up to the school while Forest watches in confusion and curiosity from the airship.
Lie Ren: So, what do we do?
The group finds themselves riding a rising elevator inside the academy with their wrists still restrained, accompanied by guards.
Ruby: I don't know yet. But we should be careful with what we say.
One of the guards looks over his shoulder at them.
Blake: (quietly) We'll follow your lead, Ruby.
Ruby smiles but then starts to look worried again. The elevator beeps as it arrives at its destination, and the guards escort the group out into a hallway and down a flight of stairs. They arrive in a room just as Ironwood walks through, speaking to someone else.
Ironwood: I swear if I have to sit through one more council meeting like that…
Penny: Yay, you're here!
Her celebratory greeting catches Ironwood and Winter's attention, causing them to stop and look. Weiss steps out from behind Ruby and approaches them.
Winter gasps lightly in surprise, and the sisters' reunion is quickly interrupted by Nora leaning in and holding up her bound wrists, grinning and waving her fingers.
Nora: Anyone wanna give us a hand with these?
Winter takes a moment to collect herself, returning to her usual stern demeanor and addressing the guards.
Winter: You have ten seconds to take those off before I start hurting you.
Guards: (looking at each other in confusion) Huh?
Finally understanding the situation, the guards frantically begin removing the bolases from everyone's arms, while Ironwood watches with a smile.
Guard 1: Sorry!
Guard 2: Please, let us help you!
Guard 1: Forgive us!
The bolases fall to the floor, giving off a purple glow and retracting the ropes before emitting a beep noise.
Ironwood: Please, come in.
The group follows Ironwood, Winter and Penny into Ironwood's office.
Ironwood: It is so good to see all of you.
Yang: (massaging her wrist) Our reception didn't really convey that.
Ironwood: (sighs) I sincerely regret how you were treated by my team.
Qrow rolls his eyes with a small huff. Ironwood walks behind his desk to sit down, and Penny and Winter take positions standing at either side of the desk.
Ironwood: When a rogue airship entered our airspace, it raised some… red flags. We assumed the ship was stolen.
Ruby laughs awkwardly, before taking an apologetic tone.
Ruby: Okay, yeah, it was stolen.
Ironwood's eyes widen in surprise. He then smiles, and his shoulders move a tiny bit with a silent chuckle. Winter, meanwhile, finds no humor in the situation and begins scolding Weiss.
Winter: You stole an Atlas airship?
Weiss watches with a frown as Winter approaches her.
Winter: What were you thinking!? You might've been shot down! How unbelievably irresponsib--
Weiss surprises and interrupts Winter by hugging her.
Weiss: I'm sorry I worried you. But we did what we had to do.
Winter sighs and hugs back, calming down.
Winter: I suppose I understand.
She then turns her head to glare at Qrow.
Winter: But I cannot believe that you allowed this to happen, Qrow.
Qrow: You try stopping these kids when they have their mind set on something. Speaking of which… (looking at Ironwood) We have some important information for you that's… confidential.
Winter returns to her position beside Ironwood's desk.
Penny: (moving beside Ironwood) Oh, is it about the Relics?
Winter: (moving to Ironwood's other side) Or perhaps the Winter Maiden?
Qrow: (surprised) You told them?
Ironwood stands from his desk and retrieves the Relic of Knowledge from a drawer, making it grow to its normal size as he holds it up.
Ironwood: Did you really think you were the only one who got to work on a new plan after Beacon? WIth Ozpin gone, I needed my own team of people I could trust. So yes, I told them. The Ace-Ops too. Which is why I'm so glad you're here… with this. (gesturing to the Relic) Until now, I believed it was impossible to truly turn the tide against Salem. Oz has pushed her back, has kept victory out of her claws, but she will keep returning stronger and stronger… unless we destroy her.
He places the Relic atop his desk, while Ruby looks deep in thought.
Ruby: But… what about the Atlas Relic?
Ironwood: You mean the Staff of Creation?
Penny: It's safe inside the Vault!
Qrow: And the Winter Maiden?
Winter: She is secure and in stable condition.
Yang: Stable condition? What does that--
Qrow: She's, uh, not exactly a spring chicken.
Ironwood: I know how this all looks. Recalling my military? The embargo? I probably don't seem the most trustworthy right now.
Blake: Then why continue it?
Nora: The people of Mantle are hurting!
Ironwood: I needed to ensure Salem couldn't infiltrate Atlas. And I wanted my military here, protecting my people.
Yang: But it's not protecting them! It's making everyone hate you.
Ironwood: It's a price I'm willing to pay.
Ironwood reaches over to a glowing panel of buttons on his desk and taps a button that resembles a table emitting light from its surface.
Ironwood: Just as you all have been entrusted with the knowledge of Salem's existence, I need you all to trust me. I have a plan.
Shutters come down outside the windows, darkening the room. A circle in the center of the floor bearing Atlas' emblem begins to rise up, prompting Ruby and Oscar to step off of it. As Ironwood talks and makes his way over to it, the circle continues to rise and transforms into a table.
Ironwood: Ozpin believed the best way to fight Salem was to do so in secret. Whether that was the right choice or not isn't for me to say. But we find ourselves in a position of needing, well, a new approach.
Qrow: And what do you suggest?
Ironwood brings out a tiny remote and presses a button, activating a hologram display of Amity Colosseum, which hovers above the table.
Jaune: That's… Amity Colosseum.
Oscar: Where the Vytal Festival is held?
Ironwood: Indeed. When Beacon fell and everyone on Remnant lost contact with one another, I knew our current system was outdated. Amity was built to bring the nations together, and it will serve that purpose once again.
He presses the button again, and the hologram Amity Colosseum gains an antenna atop it. Ruby and her friends stare at the hologram and look at each other.
Penny: Isn't it great? We're not going to just replace Beacon Tower. Building a new tower on top of Amity Colosseum will re-establish global communications!
Winter: By launching the tower high into the atmosphere, our scientists believe we can create a sort of… satellite out of reach of the Grimm and capable of maintaining global communications even if we were to lose another tower.
Ruby: That is great.
Qrow: James... you don't need the entire military for this.
Ironwood: I will for the next part, where I finally tell the people about Salem.
Qrow: Huh, so that's why you withdrew your troops, to handle the panic that would break out in Atlas.
Ironwood: Yes, panic is inevitable, and panic brings Grimm. But I believe we are ready. Once Atlas has come to grips with the fight ahead, I'll use Amity Tower to spread the message to all of Remnant.
Weiss: But everything will fall apart. Grimm will be everywhere!
Winter: You're right, but Atlas is willing and prepared to assist.
Ironwood: Trying to hide the truth from the world will eventually kill us all.
Ironwood presses a button on his remote, and the hologram disappears, the table transforms and recedes into the floor and the shutters pull away from the windows.
Qrow: Oz spent his whole life, many lives, keeping this secret.
Ironwood: I know. But since Beacon, things have changed.
Ironwood begins heading back to his desk.
Ironwood: Without him here to guide us, all I can do is use my best judgment.
Behind him, Oscar shifts uncomfortably. As if sensing something, Ironwood stops and looks back.
Ironwood: What is it?
Oscar: Actually, Oz isn't completely gone.
Qrow: Uh, Oscar here is… is the next Ozpin.
Smiling, Ironwood quickly and eagerly approaches Oscar, who looks nervous.
Ironwood: I'm so glad you're here. I didn't think you--
Oscar puts his hands up and interrupts Ironwood, as the latter crouches to Oscar's level.
Oscar: Not quite. He's kind of, um, gone... at the moment.
Ironwood's smile fades, and he lowers his head.
Ironwood: That's not normal. (looking back up) How did he--
Ruby: We don't know.
Ironwood, Qrow and Oscar look at Ruby.
Ruby: We were in a train crash, and ever since, well… suddenly, Oz wasn't there anymore.
Ironwood: That's the worst news yet. (rising to his feet) Did you learn anything from him about the Relics before…?
Ruby: He told us the lamp can answer three questions. But all the questions were used up already.
Blake and Yang look at each other.
Ironwood: Right, right.
Ironwood walks back behind his desk and stares out the window.
Ironwood: Ozpin told us that too, once upon a time. (turning to face them) At least we have you, Oscar. You're safe here in Atlas. Maybe together we can figure out how to bring Ozpin back.
Oscar: (grinning) Thank you, sir. (stands at attention) I mean, uh, general. Uh, Ironwood? (smiling awkwardly)
Ironwood picks up the Relic of Knowledge, walks over to Ruby and offers it to her.
Ruby: You're giving it back to me?
Ironwood: After what happened with the Ace-Ops, I don't want you to think I'm keeping anything from you, especially something as important as this. For the time being, I think it's safest with the people who brought it here.
He hands her the Relic.
Ruby: Um, thank you.
She shrinks the Relic and hooks it onto her belt, exchanging a look with Oscar.
Ironwood: We must work together if we're to fight Salem and win. Now, if you're all on board…
Ruby thinks it over for a few seconds, then looks at Ironwood.
Ruby: Tell us how we can help.
Ironwood: Good, because getting the Amity Tower ready to launch won't be easy. (walking back to his desk) But first, I think we need to get those weapons of yours up to our standards.
A hologram screen appears, showing footage of Blake drawing her broken katana before their fight against the Sabyrs in Mantle. Blake reacts with embarrassment.
Winter: Remember, this is Atlas. While assisting the military, we will provide you with the best equipment our scientists can devise.
Yang: (fist in the air) Yeah!
Upon exiting Ironwood's office, the group encounters the Ace-Ops once more.
Marrow Amin: So, that was the second time I got banned. Then there was the third time when--
Clover: Alright, cut the chatter.
On one wall in the room, there is a hologram displaying Atlas Academy News.
The first bulletin explains that the administration restroom is closed due to flooding from a "decimated toilet", followed by instructions to use the upper barracks restroom instead while the administration restroom is being repaired.
The second bulletin is about an upcoming "monthly all-hands meeting", during which they will honor Penny as employee of the month and show the results for a competition that was held. The bulletin also says that Ironwood holds open office hours once a month and to reach out to Stephanie Santiago to schedule a 15-minute slot with him.
The third bulletin reads as follows:
"ELECTION WATCH PARTY
- Come join to watch the results of Robyn Hill versus Jacques Schnee
- Free food and drink in the Main Atrium of the Academy"
As Ruby and her friends walk down the stairs, the Ace-Ops approach them.
Clover: I'd like to sincerely apologize for the miscommunication down in Mantle. We didn't intend to--
Suddenly, Elm Ederne pushes her way past Clover and Marrow and begins frantically shaking Ruby's hand, accidentally flailing her about in the air.
Elm: I feel so bad, honestly! If we had known who you were, we'd be laughing over a hot meal right now and--
Partway through her second sentence, Elm drops the now-dizzy Ruby on the floor.
Ruby: I understand. You were just following orders.
Ruby gets to her feet, groaning, only to be spun around by Weiss.
Weiss: I mean, you could have asked us some questions first.
Marrow: Questions are for the weak. But we're all on the same team now. Not that I'm happy about it.
Marrow crosses his arms and soon realizes that his tail is wagging. He reaches back and grabs it, much to Harriet's amusement.
Clover: We just wanted to say we're sorry. And that we're looking forward to working with you on our next mission. You might be students, but you've been fighting just as hard as we have, if not harder.
Harriet: Exactly why I'm looking forward to seeing what you kids can do.
Vine Zeki: Not everything's a competition, Hare.
Penny enters the room and slides in front of Ruby, throwing her hands up in excitement.
Penny: C'mon! Let me show you around campus.
She enthusiastically marches away, with Ruby and friends following her. Ironwood exits his office just as Qrow begins to walk away from the stairs in front of the office.
Qrow stops and turns around, and Ironwood descends the stairs and approaches him.
Ironwood: I meant it when I said it was good to see you again.
Qrow: (awkwardly) Uh, yeah, you too.
Ironwood steps forward and hugs Qrow, who looks confused at first but then hugs back with a smile and an eye roll. Elsewhere in the school, Penny leads Team RWBY, Team JNPR and Oscar through various hallways, while the group becomes more and more tired as the tour goes on.
Penny: So that way's the cafeteria, and that way is the training rooms. Oh, and over there are the classrooms!
Ruby stretches, yawning loudly. The group comes to a stop, with everyone looking exhausted. Nora leans against Ren, asleep on her feet.
Ruby: This all looks great, Penny. But where are we staying?
Penny: Remember, you're in Atlas now. As the most well-funded school on Remnant, every teen at Atlas Academy gets their own room! And if that wasn't enough--
Ren: So we're staying in the dorms?
Penny: (with an excited dance and hop) It'll be just like Beacon again!
Nora collapses to the floor.
Down in Mantle, it has begun raining. Ironwood and Winter's broadcast videos continue to play on screens around the city.
Ironwood: The Kingdom of Atlas will remain strong, and it will remain safe. That is my promise.
Watts: For the last time, a singular hideout makes us susceptible to discovery.
Watts hacks the traffic post across the street to change it to allow pedestrians to cross as he walks across the street.
Tyrian: But what if we're seen? What if we're recognized?
Watts: We stay mobile.
The sound of multiple stabbings can be heard over the communication device.
Tyrian: We're walking around a city with a thousand eyes.
Watts changes another traffic signal and crosses the street without pause, causing cars to come screeching to a halt.
Watts: (sighs) While cybersecurity has been stepped up in Atlas, as usual, none of the code was updated in Mantle.
He walks across another street, hacking another system to make a blockade of posts rise up from the road, which a car crashes into as it swerves to go around him.
Woman: Oh no! Gosh! (running to check on the driver) Are you okay!?
Tyrian: (chuckling) That certainly sounds useful.
Watts: It should be.
Watts pauses and presses his thumb to one of his rings, which glows cyan. All nearby security cameras power down.
Watts: I helped write that code, after all.
Muffled screaming is heard from inside a building, while the camera next to its door powers down. The door opens, and Tyrian steps out, shutting the door behind him with a happy sigh.
Tyrian: Well, I suppose we all have our talents.
Tyrian walks away down an alley, while a pool of blood flows out from under the door. The blood slowly makes its way into the view of the hacked security camera.