- For the episode with the same name, see Ace Operatives.
The Ace Operatives were graduates from Atlas Academy who were at the top of their class. After graduating they joined the Atlas Military and, likely by Ironwood, were chosen to become part of the group.
In the following two years after the Fall of Beacon, the Ace-Ops were informed about the existence of Salem, the Relics and the Maidens. Together with Winter Schnee and a rebuilt Penny Polendina, they formed Ironwood's Group to supplement the fracturing of Ozpin's Group.
The Ace-Ops first appeared in "The Greatest Kingdom", when they were called in to Mantle due to reports of a stolen Manta airship entering its airspace and due to the unauthorized use of weapons by civilians. The culprits were Teams RWBY, JNR, Qrow Branwen and Oscar Pine, who were defending the city from a pack of Sabyrs. Ace-Ops then caught them by surprise and seized their weapons before leaving them in the custody of the authorities.
Following Ruby's Group's arrival to Atlas Academy, the Ace-Ops personally apologize to the team for apprehending them. Ironwood then convinces both groups to work together as one to launch the Amity Project. With the project demanding intense labor, resources and protection in the interest of restoring global communications, both groups would work together in protecting Mantle, supply runs and clearing the launch site from Grimm.
The project additionally faced resistance from Robyn Hill, who questioned the redirection of Dust from Mantle to Amity. On the night of the elections, a party held to celebrate her potential win was sabotaged by Arthur Watts and Tyrian Callows, who respectively hacked the votes and murdered members affiliated with Robyn, while implicating Penny as the culprit. The Happy Huntresses, led by Robyn, then came to resort to full vigilantism and robbery, completely stalling the project. In the hopes of creating a truce, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long decided to reveal the Project to Robyn instead of arresting her.
Meanwhile, now holding a chair in the council, Jacques Schnee held a formal banquet, inviting Ironwood to defend his seats on the Council. With the Ace-Ops at the banquet, Watts used Jacques's credentials to turn off Mantle's heating grid, leading to mass discord in the city and sparking a Grimm invasion.
In "Out in the Open", the Ace-Ops fight off the Grimm invasion of Mantle alongside Ruby's Group, splitting off in groups. While the majority helped evacuate citizens and fend off Grimm, Robyn and Ironwood briefly worked together to deliver a message of unity to the masses, while leading Tyrian into a trap by having Qrow and Clover unite with her and capture him. Watts decided to try and investigate Amity on his own and engaged against Ironwood and lost.
Following his battle, Ironwood returned to the Academy to find a black chess piece on his desk. In panic, he called both the Ace-Ops and Ruby's Group to convene at his office. JNR intended to pick up Oscar, only to find him missing instead. Ruby realized that the person behind the chess piece was Cinder Fall, who was assumed dead following the battle of Haven. A full scale argument ensues regarding trust, due to Yang and Blake's choice to tell Robyn about the project prematurely and risking exposure. During the argument, a Seer bursts from the bag confiscated by Ironwood from Watts. The Seer allows Salem to astral project herself directly into the office and warn them of her incoming forces. The Ace-Ops report that Salem's army was gone undetected in the panic of the Grimm invasion, as detection alarms were shut off.
Ironwood finally announces his new plan: to use the Relic of Creation to lift the city of Atlas into the atmosphere in order to keep both Relics and the Maiden from Salem, thus abandoning Mantle to the Grimm. Ruby attempts to warn the others of this via her Scroll, but is stopped by Ironwood, who stops her transmissions and, understanding the controversial choice was never going to be accepted by them, ordered the Ace-Ops to arrest Team RWBY as he leaves.
In the episode "With Friends Like These", Vine, Elm, Harriet and Marrow are defeated by Team RWBY, meanwhile the Manta occupied by Clover, Qrow, Robyn and the apprehended Tyrian is crashed by the latter. Qrow and Clover began to fight and, as Tyrian joined, overpowered Clover and broke his Aura. Needing an escape, Tyrian used Harbinger to fatally impale Clover, implicating Qrow in his murder.
In "Divide", the Ace-Ops return to the Atlas Command Center to mourn the loss of Clover. There, they witness Ironwood shoot Sleet, killing him. Angry at Ruby's Group, they make a return in "Strings", attempting to convince Penny to return to Ironwood and unlock the Atlas Vault, or capture her. The group battles the new Winter Maiden, nearly capturing her but failing. They are instructed by Ironwood to take one of Floating Array's blades, doing so in order to force Penny to join them.
In "Amity", the Ace-Ops watch the broadcast that Ruby delivers to the world revealing the existence of Salem. During this, when Penny is short-circuited by Watts, the group is ordered by Ironwood to find and take her back, with Winter replacing Clover in his role as leader.
En route to the mission in "Midnight", the operatives intercept and open comms broadcast from Yang's Group, ignoring their concerns about the river of Grimm Liquid headed towards Mantle. As they begin to argue, a series of earthquakes shake the tundra and Mantle, and soon after, the river of Grimm produces a massive geyser that manages to puncture Atlas' Hard-Light shield, leaving the two groups in shock.
The Ace Ops then arrest Yang's Group in "War". Upon seeing Monstra, Jaune points out that that is where The Hound took Oscar Pine, but some of the Ace-Ops insist that Grimm do not take prisoners. Winter contacts Ironwood, who informs her of a plan for her and the Ace-Ops to carry a bomb into Monstra to blow it up from the inside. This sparks concern from Jaune, Ren and Yang, who fear this would endanger Oscar, and they insist on rescuing him first.
Winter listens to the Ace-Ops and Yang's Group debate, silently conflicted. Jaune attempts to convince Winter to let them rescue Oscar by saying the Ace-Ops could use them as a scouting team, but the Ace-Ops feel it is foolish to risk three lives to save one ally. Ren stands and argues that no one is replaceable, and he soon realizes that his Semblance has evolved into reading emotions. With this ability, he realizes that the Ace-Ops have been fighting how they truly feel about each other, and he even looks down at himself, seeing his own true emotions. Harriet and Elm are angered by Ren verbalizing how they truly feel, and Winter steps in to prevent a fight and states that they will go through with Jaune's plan. Harriet objects, but Winter pulls rank to silence her and tells Yang's Group that they have a time limit. The Ace-Ops drop them off, and just before Ren exits the ship, he tells Marrow and Winter that they no longer want to be part of any of this.
The Ace-Ops later join the the fight on the front lines while waiting for the bomb to arrive. While Marrow is upset that students like Team FNKI are fighting during the Battle of Atlas and is worried about Yang's Group, the other members just brush it off and prepare to deliver the bomb. When Winter plans to go through with using the bomb while they are still inside Monstra, Marrow asks if she would still go through with it if her sister was inside and if she could love with telling her that she killed her friends. She responds that she will do whatever it takes as a soldier and that he should do the same. When the Ace Ops start to move the bomb, Monstra is destroyed before they even have a chance to use it.
Later, they report back to Ironwood and he asks where Yang's Group is since he planned on using them as leverage to get penny back to his side. Harriet informs him that Winter went against orders and let them go rescue Oscar from Monstra and that they still have the original bomb. Ironwood then destroys the Schnee Dust Company drones sent to help evacuate Mantle and gives Penny an ultimatum, return to him and open the Vault within an hour or he will use the bomb to destroy Mantle.
While the Ace-Ops originally believe this to be a bluff, Ironwood confirms to them that he wasn't lying and are all horrified that he is planning to go through with it. While most of them agree to go along with it, Marrow refuses to help them and states that he used to wear his rank with pride before he realized that it was just a collar. After he prepares to leave the group, Ironwood pulls out his gun and prepares to shoot Marrow before Winter tackles him and arrests him for treason instead.
However, Winter reveals to Marrow she did this on purpose to save Marrow before leaving the Ace-Ops. She then calls Weiss Schnee while reunting with Qrow Branwen and Robyn Hill. After dicussing the plan, she returned to Ironwood while pretending to still be loyal to him while waiting for Penny to turn herself in. Ironwood then sends the remaining three Ace-Ops after Qrow and Robyn. After their trap is sprung, Winter assists Team JNR, Oscar, and Emerald Sustrai in taking down Ironwood personally before sending him to a cell to wait until evacuations were done, while the other three Ace-Ops were defeated and slowed down by Marrow's Semblance.
Once Arthur Watts takes control of the Atlas Command Center, he hacked an Atlesian Knight-200 and sent it to detonate towards Qrow and Robyn as they were restraining the Ace-Ops. Marrow took the hit instead, freeing the other Ace-Ops from his Semblance. Harriet used this chance to deliver the bomb to Mantle herself with Vine, Qrow and Robyn pursuing her. After her teammates talk her out of doing it and Qrow stops the bomb from falling out of the ship, Arthur armed the bomb himself. Vine decided to sacrifice his own life to save his friends, with them forced to watch. The remaining Ace-Ops, along with Qrow and Robyn them witness Atlas crashing into Mantle and both cities being flooded.
Out of the original Ace Operatives, Clover was said to be the most skilled Operative, followed by Elm who is second only to him due to his Good Fortune Semblance bringing himself good fortune. Vine was known for being the least emotional member of the group while also being skilled with his Aura Vines Semblance without relying on his weapon. Harriet was known for her Super-Speed and impatient personality when it came to completing the mission.
Marrow was considered the rookie of the team due to being the newest member when he was first introduced following Tortuga's death. After Clover was killed, Winter Schnee temporarily took his place as leader of the Ace Operatives under Ironwood's orders. After seeing how far Ironwood was willing to go to achieve his plans however, both Marrow and Winter defected from the Ace Ops to stop him.
- Eddy Rivas came up with the name Ace-Ops for the team.
- The Ace-Ops are based on Aesop's Fables. "Ace-Ops" is a homophone of "Aesop's" and every member of the team is based on one of the fables:
- The Ace Operatives lacking a team color and ignoring the standard four-man squad convention was an intentional choice, made to show that Ironwood did not care about Ozpin's rules and his view of prioritizing efficiency.
- When Team RWBY got to Atlas, Miles Luna wanted it to feel like the days they spent at Beacon Academy and came up with the idea that some Atlas Academy professors would teach them how to be Huntsmen. This concept later evolved into mentors for Ruby's Group which eventually became the Ace-Ops.
- The Ace-Ops are not only fun characters, but also foils to some of the main characters to help move their stories along.