From the middle of the arena, James Ironwood stares up at Arthur Watts, who is standing on a platform in one of the four gravity biomes. A lava geyser shoots up from the fire biome to the left behind Ironwood, and another shoots up from the one to the right of the gravity biome Watts is in. Watts aims his revolver at Ironwood, who draws his black revolver and aims it behind himself. Watts pulls back his gun's hammer.
Ironwood fires a Gravity Dust bullet from his black gun, launching himself toward the gravity biome. Watts fires his gun at Ironwood, who shoots a Gravity Dust bullet to the side to dodge it. Ironwood then fires yet another Gravity Dust bullet to put himself back on course toward the gravity biome. Once he gets near Watts, he fires yet another Gravity Dust bullet to his left, sending him toward a floating wall on his right, which he kicks off of to put himself in the air above Watts. Not expecting this move, Watts had begun to aim his revolver at Ironwood and instead ended up looking up at him in surprise before jumping away just as Ironwood comes down and punches with his right hand. The punch connects with the floor, and as Ironwood stands back up, he tosses his black revolver into the air and catches it by the muzzle, having flipped it around.
Watts once again attempts to aim at Ironwood, but Ironwood swings the handle of his revolver at Watts' face. Watts leans back to dodge, leaving an opening for Ironwood to punch him in the diaphragm. While Watts is still in the air, Ironwood spins around and kicks him in the gut, sending him flying across a gap to another platform. Watts rights himself in mid-air and lands on his toes, sliding backward. He barely manages to lean his torso to the side to dodge a normal bullet fired by Ironwood. He then blocks two more normal bullets with a Hard-Light shield deployed from his rings. He aims his gun at Ironwood.
Watts fires and then activates one of his rings. Ironwood dives and rolls out of the way of the Electricity Dust bullet that Watts had fired at him. He gets up in a kneeling position and aims his white revolver at Watts, but there is a dull ping noise, followed by the gravity around Ironwood changing to levitate him into the air. There is another dull ping, and Ironwood is slammed into a floating wall.
Watts smirks and runs away, jumping to another platform, and Ironwood gets up and gives chase along the floating walls. There is another dull ping, and Ironwood begins to fall from the wall he is standing on. He fires a Gravity Dust bullet from his black gun to throw himself onto the adjacent platform and rolls across the floor. The force of the Gravity Dust bullet proves to be a little too much, as Ironwood stumbles over to the edge once he gets on his feet. As he teeters on the edge, he fires his white revolver, using the recoil to steady himself and keep himself on the platform.
Watts creates small Hard-Light platforms to traverse over the sunken geyser biome toward another gravity biome. Ironwood follows him across, barely managing to make it from one Hard-Light platform to another before they disappear. He fires his white gun at Watts, who activates one of his rings, triggering a geyser beneath Ironwood. Ironwood cries out as the boiling water hits him and throws him to the side.
As he falls, Ironwood aims his black gun below him and fires a Gravity Dust bullet, sending him flying back up into the air to land in the gravity biome that Watts had fled to. He runs up a wall and onto the underside of a platform. He and Watts run parallel with one another, firing normal bullets at each other, with Ironwood using his white gun to shoot and Watts using his Hard-Light shield to defend. Watts shoots two Fire Dust bullets at Ironwood. The first bullet misses, but the second bullet hits, causing Ironwood's Aura to flicker.
Watts: Fourteen, thirteen.
Ironwood leaps across the gap toward Watts, who activates one of his rings, causing Ironwood to fall down to the platform below. As he falls, Ironwood uses his black gun to fire a Gravity Dust bullet, which hits Watts, knocking him off his platform and into a wall. Ironwood lands on his feet, while Watts falls along the wall, landing on his shoulder on the platform that Ironwood is on.
While Watts starts to get up on his hands and knees, Ironwood holsters his revolvers, walks over and kicks him in the gut, knocking him into the wall. Watts lands on his feet, just in time for Ironwood to punch him in the head. Watts attempts to punch back with his right hand and then his left, but Ironwood leans to the sides to avoid his fists, grabs onto Watts' upper arm, and punches him hard in the ribs. He then grabs Watts by the throat and presses him up against the wall, lifting him up from the floor. Watts aims his revolver at Ironwood's face and shoots an Electricity Dust bullet and a Fire Dust bullet, forcing Ironwood to let go and dodge.
Ironwood grabs Watts' wrist, reaches across his back to draw his white gun, and aims it at Watts. Watts leans to the side, grabs the underside of Ironwood's gun, and jumps up and over Ironwood, who fires his gun while Watts still has the muzzle in his hand. Due to his wrist being twisted around, Ironwood is forced to let go of Watts, who then lets go of Ironwood's gun. Ironwood aims his gun at Watts, but Watts shoots first, firing an Electricity Dust bullet, which Ironwood blocks with his right arm. Watts flies backwards, turns in mid-air and lands on the floor.
Ironwood looks at his prosthetic arm for a moment and then fires his white gun at Watts, who flees. Ironwood chases him, and Watts uses a ring to change gravity once again and runs up a wall in front of him. As he chases Watts up the wall, Ironwood fires at him with his white gun. Watts turns and shoots a Fire Dust bullet and Ice Dust bullet, which knock the black gun from Ironwood's hand. Watts shoots one more Fire Dust bullet and then runs up onto the top of the wall.
He shuts off the gravity for the wall and flees, but Ironwood manages to grab onto the edge with his left hand and pulls himself up. Once he reaches the top, he sees Watts fleeing to another gravity biome on Hard-Light platforms. Instead of following, Ironwood looks off to the left.
Immediately after Watts arrives in the other gravity biome, a lava geyser erupts from the sunken fire biome below. Watts looks back at it, and when the lava falls, he looks around in surprise, having lost sight of Ironwood. As Watts peeks over the edge at the fire biome, Ironwood leaps up onto a platform behind him and begins running.
Ironwood fires a normal bullet, striking Watts' shoulder and causing his Aura to flicker. Watts cries out in pain, then turns and angrily fires an Ice Dust bullet, which freezes Ironwood's right foot to the floor. Watts moves up to the underside of a platform above them. Ironwood shoots the ice trapping his leg, shattering the ice, and runs toward Watts, firing at him. Watts blocks with a Hard-Light shield and fires back with a normal bullet at first, followed by a series of Electricity Dust bullets. At one point, Ironwood's bullet and Watts' bullet deflect each other.
Ironwood and Watts leap at each other and grab onto each other's hands, rotating in the air due to the conflicting gravitational fields. Ironwood lets go of Watts' gun and punches him in the jaw, and Watts counters by headbutting him. Watts changes the gravity again, and the two fall onto the underside of a platform, landing on their sides. They get up, and Watts activates one of his rings and attempts to leap away, only for Ironwood to grab his ankle and slam him onto the floor. Watts' Aura flickers and then breaks.
Watts stands up and aims his revolver, only to see Ironwood already charging toward him. Ironwood tackles him, and the two go flying from the gravity biome, turning and flailing as they enter the planet's true gravitational pull. They both slam into the floor of the arena's center platform, and the impact breaks Ironwood's Aura. As he slides across the floor, Watts rights himself into a kneel and uses his rings on the platform, which begins to rise up. Ironwood stands up and checks his gun's ammo, panting.
Watts: You never appreciated my genius, James.
Ironwood puts the revolving chamber away and flips his gun around to hold it by the muzzle.
Watts: You just stood atop it and called yourself a giant!
Watts, also holding his revolver by the muzzle, charges forward, spins, and attempts to slam the side of his left fist into Ironwood's face, but Ironwood backs away from him. Watts moves forward and slams the butt of his revolver into Ironwood's nose, causing Ironwood to recoil and stumble back. Watts then attempts to punch with his left hand, but Ironwood blocks and redirects it with his right arm. Watts swings his revolver to the left at Ironwood's face again and barely misses. He then swings his revolver and his left fist to the right, but Ironwood ducks under both attacks. While Watts is turned away, Ironwood attempts to strike him with his revolver, but Watts turns and puts his left arm up to stop Ironwood's right arm. The force of Ironwood's right arm causes Watts to bend at his knees, and he then slams his revolver into Ironwood's chest, causing Ironwood to stumble back.
Ironwood: I gave you everything you could have wanted!
The platform finally stops rising, docking itself in an octogonal ring just under the Amity Communications Tower's machinery.
As Ironwood charges toward him, Watts holds his gun out, but Ironwood pushes it aside with his left hand and then slams the butt of his revolver against Watts' mouth. Watts stumbles back and then attempts to guard himself with his right arm and his gun, and Ironwood punches his arm, causing him to turn. Watts stumbles and backs away, while Ironwood presses forward and strikes him across the jaw with his revolver. He attempts to defend with his arm, but once again, Ironwood punches him hard enough to cause him to turn. As they near a metal beam, Watts hits across Ironwood's face with his revolver and moves forward to take the offensive as Ironwood recoils from the blow. However, Ironwood recovers and punches Watts in the gut hard enough to send him flying back against the metal beam.
Ironwood attempts to hit him with his revolver again, but Watts grabs Ironwood's arm and attempts to aim his own revolver at Ironwood's head. Ironwood grabs onto Watts' wrist and the two stand locked in place.
Watts: (chuckles) I suppose in this instance, my brains and your brawn are evenly matched.
Ironwood stares Watts in the eyes, with the barrel of Watts' revolver pressed to his temple.
Ironwood: You're smart, but you're not the only one who can count.
The two of them pant, and Watts lowers his gun, Ironwood letting go of his wrist. Ironwood starts to calm down but is soon alerted by the tone in Watts' voice.
Watts: Oh, I know.
Watts drops his revolver, and Ironwood looks at it. Watts then grabs Ironwood's left wrist and swings him around to trade places with him. He then shoves Ironwood's arm through a gap in the metal beam and shoves himself away, collapsing to the floor. Four of Watts' rings are placed within the gap in the beam, held in place by a Hard-Light barrier that has trapped Ironwood's left arm. Ironwood attempts to pull his arm through, only for the barrier to tear and burn his skin, causing him to scream in pain.
Watts: That was a little too close for my liking, James.
Watts stands up, flexing his fingers and then making a fist.
Watts: Rebuilding those rings is going to be such a pain.
Ironwood glares at Watts, who turns and begins walking away.
Watts: Now, if you'll excuse me.
Ironwood grips his upper arm and begins slowly pulling it through the barrier again, groaning and wincing in pain.
Watts: I wouldn't do that if I were you. I mean, unless you're hoping to add more metal to that body of yours.
Ironwood stops for a moment, panting and sweating. He closes his eyes and resumes pulling. Watts uses his remaining rings to highlight portions of the tower's machinery in cyan boxes.
Watts: All right now, where did they put them?
Behind him, Ironwood cries out, and there is a thud. Watts' eyes widen, and he looks over his shoulder to see Ironwood sitting up from the floor, panting, with smoke rising from his left arm. Watts turns to face him, shocked.
Ironwood stands, charges forward, and uses his right arm to grab Watts by the collar of his shirt. He slams Watts onto the floor and continues running, scraping the right side of Watts' face against the floor, before lifting him up to dangle him over the edge of the platform. Lava bubbles and rises from the fire biome far below Watts, who stares down at it and then looks at the panting Ironwood.
Ironwood: I will sacrifice... whatever it takes... to stop her.
Watts chuckles, smirking.
Watts: Oh, I hope you do, James. (spits blood) I hope you do.
Clover: Tyrian Callows, you're under arrest.
Tyrian begins laughing maniacally, and Qrow angrily runs forward and swings his sword. Tyrian blocks with his blades, but the impact knocks him into a wall. Qrow slashes at him again, but Tyrian ducks and attempts to kick Qrow's feet out from under him, only for Qrow to jump over his leg. Tyrian rushes forward to stab Qrow, who blocks with his sword and then slashes at him. Tyrian dodges acrobatically, standing on his hands, then turning over and leaping into the air to stab down at Qrow with both weapons, but Qrow once again blocks with the flat of his sword. Tyrian hops down, and Qrow swings his sword at him, missing due to Tyrian ducking down and propelling himself backward with his guns.
Tyrian begins slashing at Qrow, but Clover hooks one of the blades with Kingfisher and pulls his arm away, causing him to turn around just in time to catch one of Robyn's crossbow bolts just short of piercing between his eyes. He at first looks startled but then grins smugly and turns back to Qrow, who punches him directly in the right eye, sending him stumbling. Qrow then knees him in the gut, turns his sword in his hand, and slams the end of the hilt into Tyrian's chest, knocking him away. Qrow turns his sword back around in his grip, and Tyrian slides to a stop and growls angrily.
He looks over at Clover and Robyn, then grins at Qrow. He then runs toward them while firing his guns at Qrow, who spins his sword to block the bullets. Tyrian leaps and slashes at Clover, who turns to the side to dodge before leaning backward to dodge a slash from Tyrian's tail. Tyrian slashes at him with his weapons, and Clover takes a step past him and leans back to go under Tyrian's attacks while grabbing the hook of his own weapon. As he moves behind Tyrian and straightens up, he maneuvers his pole and the hook to loop the fishing pole's wire around Tyrian's left arm and pulls on it. Qrow then leaps and slashes down at Tyrian, who blocks with his weapon on his right arm.
Qrow quickly pulls his sword away and punches Tyrian in the cheek, causing Tyrian to turn away. Tyrian puts his right hand on the ground seemingly to catch himself but then brings his feet up and uses his right hand to push himself up into the air. He pulls his left arm free of Kingfisher's line, turns upside down and kicks both Qrow and Clover in the head simultaneously. While the two recoil from his attack, Tyrian stabs his blades into the ground to catch himself and then pushes off, flying up through the air while Robyn aims her crossbow at him.
He lands on a large pipe connected to a wall, and she fires a bolt at him, only for him to swipe it away with his tail. He turns toward Robyn, but Clover hooks his tail with Kingfisher and pulls him down. While Tyrian is on the ground, Qrow swings at him, but Tyrian rolls out of the way and gets to his feet. Qrow begins slashing his sword at him, but Tyrian dodges his attacks by jumping, ducking, stepping aside, and finally leaning back away from an attempted stab. Qrow tosses his sword into the air, the sections of the blade splitting from each other, and Tyrian watches it. While Tyrian is distracted, Qrow kicks him in the back of the head and then catches his sword.
The kick sends Tyrian stumbling across the alley to slam into a wall. He glares at Qrow, his eyes glowing purple, then moves aside as Qrow attempts to kick him in the face. Low to the ground, Tyrian moves past Qrow, who is now holding his weapon backwards with the blade curved. They turn to face each other, and once again, Clover hooks Tyrian's tail with Kingfisher and pulls, dragging Tyrian backward and giving Qrow an opening to punch him in the cheek. Tyrian goes flying through the air but manages to land on his feet. He launches himself forward in an attempt to stab Qrow with his weapons, but Qrow blocks with his blade. Robyn fires two bolts, both of which ricochet off of pipes. Tyrian moves his head to dodge the first, but the second ricochets off of Qrow's weapon and strikes him in the chin, making his Aura flicker.
Tyrian falls back, rolls, and gets to his feet. Qrow jumps over and slashes at him, but Tyrian ducks under the first slash and jumps over the second. However, as Tyrian falls back down, Qrow repositions himself, kicks Tyrian in the gut, catches him on Harbinger's gun barrel and fires. As Tyrian falls back down again, Qrow punches him in the gut and then kicks him in the side, sending him toward Clover and Robyn.
While Tyrian slides back, Clover runs forward, deploying a Gravity Bolas. He tosses the bolas and slides between Tyrian's legs, while Tyrian attempts to slash him with his right arm. The bolas successfully binds his left arm to his side. Clover grips the top of his weapon's hook, and as Tyrian attempts to stab him, Clover pushes Tyrian's arm down with his left hand and uses his right hand to move the pole around behind Tyrian. As Tyrian attempts to pull back, his right arm becomes tangled in Kingfisher's wire, and Clover pulls the pole and holds the hook in place to restrict Tyrian's arm and press his tail against his back. Qrow takes the opportunity to punch Tyrian in the gut.
Tyrian cries out in pain, then crouches, leans away from Clover, hops into the air and begins screaming. Qrow moves away from him, and Clover loosens Kingfisher's cable on him and does the same, as Tyrian drops onto his back. Upon impact with the ground, the ends of the bolas disconnect from each other, and Tyrian spins frantically, swinging his legs through the air, to finish freeing himself from the bolas and Kingfisher's wire. He then gets to his feet, looking somewhat dizzy, and begins laughing maniacally.
Robyn fires another bolt, and he turns to catch it between his teeth. He turns back to Robyn with a smug grunt. There is a small noise, and the lines in the bolt begin flashing red, before the entire bolt glows red, bursts into flame, and explodes. Tyrian sways, and his Aura flickers and then finally breaks. With a dazed laugh, he collapses. Robyn walks over to him, and he looks up at her, continuing to laugh until she kicks him in the face, knocking him out. She leans down with a smirk.
Robyn: Where's that smile now?
Clover turns and uses his communicator.
Clover: This is Clover. Requesting prisoner transport.
In Atlas Academy, Ironwood hears Clover's communicator transmission as he walks into his office. His left arm is heavily bandaged and resting in a sling, and his right hand is holding Watts' bag.
Clover: We have Tyrian Callows in custody.
Ironwood lets out a relieved sigh and grins. However, when he looks ahead of him, his grin instantly fades, his eyes widen in shock and he drops Watts' bag on the floor.
Just outside the academy, transports of Atlas Academy students are arriving, and Winter Schnee is instructing them.
Winter: All students are to remain indoors until further notice. Faculty and upperclassmen can provide gui--
Winter's communicator makes a noise, and she answers it. Ironwood's voice comes through, and his tone is gravely serious.
Ironwood: (over communicator) Schnee.
Winter: Yes, sir?
Ironwood: (over communicator) Was anyone caught trying to enter the school grounds while I was away?
Winter's eyes widen, and she turns to look at the school.
Winter: (uncertain) N-no.
Ironwood: (over communicator, speaking slowly) Are. You. Sure?
Winter's eyes widen more, and she sprints toward the school.
Cinder: Still afraid, I see.
Cinder is standing in a hallway inside the academy, watching Winter through a window. The lights in the hall are red.
Cinder: Now show me where you've been hiding her.
While flying over Mantle, Penny Polendina receives a transmission on her communicator and listens to it.
Penny changes course to fly up to the City of Atlas.
Weiss: I don't understand.
Weiss: Why would the general call us back without giving a reason?
Ren: Especially with evacuations still going on in Mantle.
Elm: You don't have to understand orders, kids. You just have to follow them.
Harriet: Civvy transports won't be stopping anytime soon. If the general says he needs us now, he needs us now.
Jaune: You all get to the general and find out what's happening. We'll bring Oscar and see you soon.
Sometime shortly after, Team RWBY arrives in Ironwood's office, along with Harriet, Elm, Marrow Amin and Vine Zeki. Ironwood is sitting behind his desk with his back turned to them. Large military airships are visible through the window.
Harriet: General Ironwood.
Ironwood turns his chair to face them.
Ironwood: We have made a critical error.
He places a queen chess piece made of black glass on his desk.
Ironwood: The Black Queen was the symbol Salem showed us before we lost everything. Her way of telling us she was inside. That it was too late. We stopped Watts. We stopped Callows, but someone was here. They put this in my office to tell me that--
A look of realization crosses his face.
Ironwood: (panicking) What if Mantle was just a distraction? What if it was just to draw us away from the academy to, to--
Weiss: Sir. I-it's going to be okay. We've got Mantle on our side now, and--
Ironwood: How do we know that wasn't part of their plan?
Ironwood: How do we know they didn't want us to bring people into Atlas by the thousands?
Vine: In trying to save everyone, we left ourselves most vulnerable.
Ironwood: Salem has been one step ahead of us this entire time!
He angrily slams his fist down on his desk, denting it. The impact bounces Watts' bag and the chess piece, and the latter falls over and rolls across the desk, emitting the characteristic noises of glass. Ruby steps forward, staring at the chess piece.
Ruby: It's… glass.
Vine, Marrow, Elm and Harriet look at her, uncertain of what she means.
Ruby: Black glass. This was Cinder.
Yang: She's alive? And she's here?!
Ironwood: (sighs) If Cinder's here, then, for all we know, Hazel's here, too!
Blake walks forward a few steps.
Blake: Sir, this isn't over yet. We're with you.
She places her hand to her chest and gives him an encouraging look. He looks at her and straightens up, his voice gaining an ominously serious tone.
Ironwood: Are you with me?
Blake's cat ears fold over, and Ironwood walks around to stand next to his desk where Watts' bag is, while Vine and Marrow look confused.
Blake backs up to stand in line with her teammates again, her ears still folded over.
Ironwood: How did Robyn know about the Global Communications Project?
The Ace Operatives look at Team RWBY. Blake and Yang look nervous. Yang looks to the side in thought for a moment, then looks at Ironwood.
Yang: We told her.
Ironwood narrows his eyes at her.
Yang: The night of the ambush.
Elm: You did what?!
Yang: We were trying to help.
Something inside of Watts' bag pushes outward.
Marrow: By going behind our backs?
Harriet walks over to Yang, glaring at her. Blake's cat ears are standing up again, alert.
Harriet: Wait. Does that mean you let her escape?
Yang: Robyn is on our side!
Watching the confrontation in front of her, Blake's cat ears fold down again.
Yang: She always has been.
Ironwood: We didn't know that for sure.
The thing inside of Watts' bag presses outward again. Weiss grips her head.
Weiss: None of this matters right now!
Ironwood: Loyalty always matters!
Suddenly, red tentacles spring forth beside Ironwood, who yelps and moves away, drawing and aiming his white revolver at the Seer that has emerged from Watts' bag. Everyone else in the room steps backward with widened eyes. Ruby gasps, Yang brings her fists up and Blake's cat ears prick straight up in alarm. The Seer rises up high in front of the desk, and Salem's voice comes from it.
Salem: General Ironwood.
The Seer's tentacles tense and curl up, and it trembles, emitting a high-pitched screech as its head cracks. Ironwood watches in fear, backing up against a wall with his gun still aimed at the Grimm. The Seer withdraws its tentacles against itself, turns over, and drops to the floor, the red smoke inside of its head fading away. It bounces down the steps, stopping in front of Team RWBY, and black smoke pours from the crack, swirling into the air and forming an apparition of Salem. Her voice echoes out from the apparition as it speaks.
Salem: The brave Huntsmen and Huntresses bested Arthur Watts. Congratulations.
Weiss, Blake and Yang stare at her in fear. Blake's cat ears are flat against her head. Ruby speaks up, showing no fear.
Ruby: We stopped Tyrian, too. And we'll stop Cinder, and anyone else you try to send here.
Ruby steps forward as she speaks, and Blake's cat ears stand back up again.
Salem: Dear girl, their goal was never victory. It was merely to set the stage.
Ironwood: For what?
Salem turns her head to look at Ironwood and smiles.
Salem: For me.
The Salem apparition drifts over to Ironwood.
Salem: Time isn't on your side, James. It's always been on mine.
Ironwood watches her with wide, terrified eyes.
Ironwood lowers his gun.
Ironwood: That's… not going to happen.
The Salem apparition leans down to look him in the eyes.
Salem: Simply accept the futility of your situation…
She shows him a soft and gentle-looking smile.
Salem: (softly) And this can all be over.
Ruby: We've seen what you're capable of. The lamp showed us.
Salem's feigned smile disappears, and she straightens up. Ruby is staring confidently at her.
Ruby: It showed us everything.
Salem turns her head to look at Ruby, and then the rest of her body turns as well.
Ruby: We've seen that you can't be killed. But we've also seen you fail.
Salem stares at Ruby with narrowed eyes. She drifts across the floor to hover in front of Ruby.
Ruby: We don't have to kill you to stop you. And we will stop you.
Salem: Your mother said those words to me.
Ruby loses her confident expression. An image of Summer Rose comes to Ruby's mind. In the image, Summer is standing on the cliffside on Patch. The grass is brown, the wind is blowing and there are dark gray clouds in the sky.
Ruby: My… mother?
In the image in Ruby's mind, Summer appears somewhat farther away and closes her eyes, her hands clasped together.
Salem: She was wrong, too.
Ruby begins crying and quickly lowers her head and presses her hands to her eyes. In the image in her mind, Summer is standing even farther away, turning her back to Ruby, with the wind blowing harder. Ruby frantically wipes her tears away. Her silver eyes flicker a couple of times, and then she yelps as her eyes emit a brief flash. She whimpers, gripping her head and swaying. Salem watches as Ruby drops to her knees, sobbing and whimpering with her head in her hands. Yang hurries to Ruby's side and drops to her knees beside her, and Ruby leans over to rest her head on Yang's lap. The smokey apparition fades away. Yang rests her hands on Ruby, looking distraught, and Blake kneels down beside her with the tips of her cat ears folded, while Weiss watches with wide eyes.
Marrow: That's Salem?! That's who we're up against?!
Harriet: And she's apparently on her way.
Elm: But we'd be alerted if any forces had approached the Kingdom. We have long-range proximity alarms all along the coast, and--
Vine brings out his Scroll and checks something.
Vine: They're offline. With all of the chaos, we didn't notice.
Marrow: Watts must have shut them down!
Ironwood's voice catches their attention. His tone is very serious and lacking in emotion.
Ironwood: Or they've already been destroyed.
Ironwood walks over to the window and stares outside.
Elm: What? All of them?
He does not answer.
Blake: You said in your speech that Amity Tower was ready to launch. Was that true?
He continues staring out the window with no response. Blake and Weiss look at each other, uncertain about the silence.
Yang: No. You just said that... to lure out Watts.
Yang sits up and looks at Ironwood. He continues silently staring out the window with no emotion in his eyes.
Weiss: General Ironwood?
There is silence for a moment.
Ironwood: I sent your sister to claim the power of the Winter Maiden.
Weiss gasps, and her eyes widen.
Ironwood: When I realized we'd been compromised, I knew we couldn't wait any longer. The Staff and the Lamp have to be locked away.
He slightly tightens his grip on his revolver. Ruby sits up, wiping her eye.
Ruby: I thought… you said we could keep it.
Ironwood: (anger slowly returning to his voice) Well, that was before you lied to me about the Lamp. Before you lied to us about Robyn, before Salem was right on our doorstep.
As he speaks, he turns around to face them. He then starts walking forward to stand next to his desk again.
Ironwood: Before Mantle was nearly destroyed, and myself and my army were left exhausted.
He lashes out, hitting Watts' bag off of his desk. He takes a moment to calm down and sets his gun on the desk.
Ironwood: The timeline has changed. And so we must change accordingly.
He picks up the queen chess piece. Harriet stands at attention.
Harriet: What are our orders, sir?
Ironwood: We are going to take our plan for Amity Tower and apply it to the city of Atlas.
He crushes the chess piece in his hand, and Ruby jumps to her feet.
Ironwood drops the shattered glass from his hand.
Ironwood: It was Oz's plan in a former life. But he didn't take it far enough.
Yang stands up.
Ironwood: If we harness the power of the Staff, and raise ourselves high into the atmosphere, the city's artificial climate will keep citizens and food supplies unharmed. Always out of reach of whatever Salem may try to send our way.
Blake's voice shakes slightly from emotion.
Blake: But we're nowhere near finished evacuating everyone! You'd be leaving Mantle to die.
Ironwood responds with far less emotion.
Ironwood: Yes… I would.
Ruby and Blake stare in shock, while Yang glares and Weiss is on the verge of tears.
Ironwood: We can't allow Salem to capture the Relics. This is our best chance at getting the Staff, the Lamp, and the Maiden as far away from her as possible.
Ruby: But we have an opportunity to reunite the world. If we launch the tower, we can all work together again. We could even call for help. If we can hold out long enough--
While Ruby speaks, Ironwood picks his gun back up, holsters it, and walks over to her.
Ironwood: Sometimes, doing the right thing means making tough decisions.
Blake: You're right. And I think the right thing to do would be to stand our ground.
Yang: Me too.
Weiss: Me too.
Ruby: Me too.
Ruby looks confidently at Ironwood and then looks over her shoulder at Vine and Marrow. Vine's expression shows no emotion, and Marrow is sadly looking away. Surprised, she turns to look at Elm and Harriet, who also show no sign of siding with her.
Harriet: We ran ourselves ragged trying to save Mantle tonight. We try that again against an even larger force--
Yang: But you're Huntsmen and Huntresses! You can't just back down from a fight!
Vine: You can't focus on one single fight while trying to win a war.
Weiss: What's the council going to say?
Ironwood: Nothing. Once I declare Martial Law.
Weiss: (distraught) No.
Blake: What about Robyn?
Elm: Who exactly are you loyal to?
Ruby: We're loyal to the people counting on us to save them!
Ironwood: We are saving who we can.
Ruby turns and looks at Ironwood, who looks at her with no visible emotion in his eyes.
Ironwood: And you're standing in our way.
Ruby, Weiss and Blake look upset, and Yang glares daggers at him. Suddenly, Ruby's Scroll flashes and vibrates. It then lights up with a ping noise and emits Jaune's voice, causing Ruby to look at it.
Jaune: It's Jaune! We've got a serious problem!
Ruby's eyes widen. She looks at Ironwood, who furrows his brows. Ruby gains a determined expression and reaches for her Scroll. Ironwood steps toward her, bringing his hand out from behind his back, and Ruby uses her Semblance to split into two separate blurs and quickly fly past Ironwood. The blurs converge behind his desk and turn back into Ruby, who is holding her Scroll with the group communications chat open.
Ruby: Ironwood's declaring Martial Law and abandoning Mantle! Salem is coming, and he's going to use the Staff to move Atlas. If we don't stop him, then Mantle's going to be des--
Jaune is listening in an Atlas Academy hallway that has red lights on. Winter and Penny are listening in the facility that Fria is held in. Qrow and Robyn are listening aboard the Manta transporting Tyrian. There is a beep, and Ruby's call is cut off. Qrow and Robyn glare at Clover who is sitting across from them. Clover looks surprised, and a bound and conscious Tyrian grins at everyone. Ruby looks at her Scroll, shocked. The communication symbol has turned red with a white slash across it, and the screen displays the word "LOCKED".
Ruby: What? No!
She stands up from behind the desk and looks at Ironwood, who is holding his Scroll up. He puts his Scroll away and heads for the door.
Ironwood: I'm sorry it's come to this, but until Atlas and the Relics are safe, you're all under arrest.
Weiss and Blake glare at him, and Yang looks furious.
Ruby: We won't just let you take us.
Ironwood stops in front of the door, and the Ace-Ops move to stand between him and Team RWBY, staring at Ruby and her teammates. Ironwood glances over his shoulder at them.
Ironwood: I know.
He leaves his office, the doors closing behind him. In a hallway somewhere in Atlas Academy, Jaune is staring at his Scroll's screen, which displays the red marked-out communication symbol and the word "LOCKED".
Jaune: Ruby, are you there? Ruby!!
He frantically taps on the screen and stops when he hears Nora's voice in front of him.
Nora: Did you... tell them?
Jaune looks to his left into a dorm room. The walls are covered with black scorch marks, and multiple broken Atlesian Knight-200s are on the floor.
Jaune: Oscar, where are you...?