As the sun begins setting over the mountains around the abandoned Dust mine, four trucks drive up the road to the mine entrance, and Amity Colosseum floats toward the mine. Two people are lying with binoculars somewhere in the area, one of whom is wearing a pin that resembles the one on Robyn Hill’s scarf. Their binoculars bear the same symbol as the pin. They both gaze up at the colosseum, before the one on the right resumes looking through his binoculars.
Soon after the trucks arrive at the mine entrance, Team RWBY, Team JNPR, Qrow Branwen and the Ace Operatives walk outside. Smiling, Marrow Amin looks at Clover Ebi and then attempts to put on a more serious demeanor. Ruby Rose, Jaune Arc and Nora Valkyrie come together to gaze in dramatic admiration of the Ace-Ops, while Lie Ren, Blake Belladonna, Weiss Schnee and Yang Xiao Long watch the three with wide eyes.
Nora: (high pitched) Aaaah!
Jaune rushes over to Clover’s side.
Jaune: You guys were incredible!
He switches to being in front of Clover and begins energetically gesturing as he talks.
Jaune: Oh, the way you took down that Geist without needing to plan your tactics out, you just knew exactly what to do!
Clover: Well, Ace-Ops are hand-picked to perfectly compliment one another. So we can focus on our assets and leave our liabilities behind.
Marrow walks over with a confident smile.
Marrow: Some of us are all asset, zero liability.
He poses with a salute and a grin, looking at Jaune. Elm Ederne scoffs, catching Marrow’s attention. He moves over to her, leaning in to confront her.
Marrow: Wha-- Yeah? Think I’ve got some liabilities, Elm?
Elm: Your brains, for one.
Clover, Elm and Harriet Bree laugh, and Marrow groans and pouts. The former three walk away.
Vine: You did ask.
Vine walks away, and Nora approaches Elm with wide eyes and a smile. Elm looks at her.
Nora: Hi. Do you need a new best friend? (moving closer) Our pair name can be…
Nora’s eyes spark with pink electricity, and she lifts her hammer into the air with both hands. She is suddenly standing on an empty plane with a green tinted sky, with Elm standing nearby. Pink lightning strikes, while green and pink gradient text appears.
Nora: (voice echoing dramatically) THUNDER THIGHS!!!
Harriet watches this with a sigh, and Ruby runs over to her.
Ruby: Perfect complementary teamwork. Oh, yeah, I want to have my friends’ backs just like that.
Harriet: (raising an eyebrow) Friends?
Elm: (laughs) This isn’t the schoolyard, kid.
Behind Elm, Nora is still posed with her hammer in the air.
Nora: (husky) Thunder Thighs…
Ren walks over, lifts the currently stiff Nora under his arm, and walks away. Ruby’s teammates join her.
Yang: But, I mean, when you go through so much with someone, it kind of changes things, doesn’t it?
Harriet: We get along well enough, sure. I count on them to keep me alive. They do the same. But that’s the job. We don’t confuse the two.
She turns and walks away, leaving Team RWBY to look on sadly.
Clover: Speaking of the job…
Further down the way, James Ironwood is talking on a communicator. He gives a brief order to a soldier, who walks away.
Clover: Duty ever beckons. You all hang back a second. (gesturing to Jaune and Qrow)
The Ace-Ops walk over to Ironwood. Ruby watches with a sad sigh, then looks away, thinking. She then gets an idea, smiles and hurries over to her teammates.
Ruby: What do you guys want to do when we get back to Atlas? Sightseeing? (gasp) Oh, what should we visit first?
Blake: (yawns) How about our beds?
Blake walks away.
Ruby: Oh, come on, guys! This is a great time to go exploring! We haven’t done that in so long!
Weiss: Ruby, we just explored a whole continent on foot before flying to this one.
Weiss walks away.
Ruby: Well, yeah, but... it was only the boring parts.
Yang: (arms crossed) We almost died.
Ruby waves her hands at Yang with an awkward chuckle, and Yang walks away. Ruby then frowns and sighs sadly.
Qrow: Hey. Heads up.
Qrow points his thumb over at Ironwood, who is talking to Clover while the other Ace-Ops walk away.
Ironwood: Can I get the team leaders over here? There’s something I’d like to discuss with you. You too, Qrow.
Ruby, Jaune and Qrow walk over to Ironwood.
Ironwood: (to Clover) I need you on the ground, but be subtle. If people see too many Huntsmen milling around, they’ll get nervous.
Clover salutes, nods and begins walking away.
Ironwood: And Clover?
Clover stops and looks back. In the background, Marrow is in front of an open airship, talking to a military Huntsman, while miming punching imaginary targets and waving his arms.
Ironwood: Don’t take Marrow.
Clover looks over at Marrow, then looks at Ironwood, smiling and chuckling with a nod. Marrow recreates his pose from when he froze a pair of Centinels and then turns around and mimes shooting something. Clover heads in Marrow’s direction, and Ironwood turns to Qrow, Jaune and Ruby.
Qrow: New problems in Mantle?
Ironwood: (sighs) More of the same, unfortunately.
Ironwood withdraws and deploys his Scroll, using it to generate a hologram screen in the air in front of him. The left side of the screen displays an Atlas Military Police mugshot of Forest, while the right side displays a photograph of Forest’s corpse in an alleyway somewhere in midtown Mantle.
Ironwood: Someone in Mantle is taking out public leaders who speak out against Atlas. Specifically, people who speak out against me. It didn’t look like a pattern at first. But this is the third murder of its kind in the last week.
Jaune: (stepping forward) Wait a minute. That’s the guy that rode with us after we were arrested.
Ruby: (upset) He died?
Qrow: Your opposition in Mantle dropping dead isn’t exactly a good look for you, huh?
Ironwood deactivates the hologram screen and puts his Scroll away.
Ironwood: Not really worried about my public image, but it is causing unrest. I think someone’s trying to frame me and, by extension, Atlas. And it’s working.
Jaune: Well, if it wasn’t for the embargo making everybody so mad, people probably wouldn’t be so quick to blame you for everything else.
Ironwood frowns and looks at Jaune, who awkwardly clears his throat and stands at attention.
Ironwood: (rubbing the bridge of his nose with his fingers) No. No, you’re right. Things in Mantle have been... hard to manage lately. I’m not blind to its issues. In fact, that’s what I want to talk to you about.
He turns and looks up at Amity Colosseum.
Ironwood: With the launch of this mobile communications tower and tensions down in Mantle, I think there’s a lot of good your teams can do here.
Ironwood’s communicator beeps, and he puts his fingers to it, listening.
Ironwood: (surprised) What? Already? Here? No, it’s fine. Let him land. I’ll deal with him myself.
Qrow and Ruby look each other, and then at Ironwood.
Qrow: More Mantle problems?
Ironwood watches an airship fly by on its way to the landing pad.
Ironwood: No. This one’s an Atlas problem.
The ship, bearing the Schnee Dust Company logo, descends onto a landing pad, where Ironwood and Team RWBY are already waiting, with Team JNPR and Qrow standing further back. A ramp extends from in front of the ship’s double door, which opens to reveal an angry Jacques Schnee. As soon as the doors begin to open, he starts talking and makes his way down the ramp.
Jacques: So let me get this straight, James. In addition to this nonsensical embargo of yours crippling my business, you’ve also decided you have the authority to commandeer private property?
He stops in front of Ironwood, who calmly stares at him, arms folded behind his back.
Jacques: When the Council hears about this, you will never-- (aggressively pointing at Ironwood)
Ironwood: Actually, I’ve already informed them. As this is now the site of a classified military operation, it didn’t even require a vote.
Jacques: Didn’t require a vote?!
Ironwood: You might want to brush up on Council law before you lose this upcoming election, Jacques. Now. I’ve allowed you to land here once as a courtesy. The next time, it won’t be a friendly reception.
Jacques glares at Ironwood.
Jacques: Lately, you seem to forget who your friends really are. I’m going to get that Council seat, James, and maybe then, you’ll--
Jacques becomes distracted, his eyes widening when he realizes Weiss is present. They stare at each other for a moment.
He walks past Ironwood, glancing at him as he does so.
Jacques: You roped my missing daughter into these schemes of yours, too?
He turns back around to look at Ironwood.
Jacques: (angrily) How long has she been back in Atlas? Did Winter know about this?
Weiss becomes annoyed and steps forward to Jacques.
Weiss: It was my decision to come here. Just like it was my decision to leave. Or have you forgotten all about that?
Jacques: If you think I’m one to forget anything, girl, then you’ve misjudged the man your father is.
Weiss: (with attitude) Believe me, I know exactly the kind of man you are.
Jacques: (angrily) How dare you speak to me that way!? I have half a mind to--
Ironwood: Half a mind to what, Jacques?
Jacques narrows his eyes, then adjusts his cuff link, sighing angrily.
Jacques: You know... your mother was devastated when you left.
Weiss begins to look upset.
Jacques: Didn’t leave her room for days. You know how… she gets... when she’s upset.
Jacques acts sad while he speaks, taking a moment to peek at Weiss’ reaction. Her eyes glimmer with sadness, and she looks down, frowning. Ruby looks upset, and Blake and Yang glare at Jacques, Blake glaring far more intensely than Yang. Jacques smirks as he turns to face Ironwood again.
Jacques: I knew one day, you would overextend your reach. I didn’t come here to beg for an abandoned mine. I came here to thank you…
Weiss looks around, noticing that her teammates have come to her side. Blake holds her hand and gives a comforting nod.
Jacques: ...for personally handing me the noose to hang you.
Blake and Yang glare at Jacques, while Ruby looks at Weiss with a smile.
Jacques: You’ll regret this.
Jacques turns to look back at Weiss.
Jacques: So these are the little friends you threw everything away for?
Weiss: (shaking her head) Not friends.
Ruby looks at Weiss, frowning a little, and Weiss looks at Jacques.
Ruby smiles wide, and Yang smirks.
Jacques returns to his airship and begins to take off. Ruby, Blake and Yang look at Weiss with concern, while she exhales and drops her strong and confident facade. The ship flies away, and a truck arrives on the platform. Once the truck comes to a stop, Winter opens the passenger side door and peeks out at the ship.
Weiss: (with a joking smile) Oh, now you show up, Winter. You just missed father.
Winter: I wouldn’t say I missed hi--
From the sky, Penny Polendina comes crashing down, landing on one knee. The force from her landing sends Team RWBY flying with a small scream, while Winter steadies herself against the shockwave. Penny straightens up and throws her hands into the air, the word “CONGRATULATIONS!” appearing above her head as a green hologram, with bright green hologram confetti spawning from it with a party horn sound.
She looks around with a giant grin as the hologram flickers. When she notices Team RWBY on the ground, her grin and the hologram both fade.
Penny: Uh, did we not start yet?
Winter puts her fingertips to her forehead in exasperation.
Winter: (sighs) Apparently, we haven’t.
Nearby, Jaune and Nora laugh, while Ruby stands up with a look of confusion.
Ruby: Start what?
After the sun finishes setting, RWBY, JNPR, Qrow, Winter, Penny and Ironwood gather in the center of Amity Colosseum’s arena. RWBY and JNPR stand lined up, with Ironwood, Winter and Penny standing across from them and Qrow standing off to the side. The arena lights are on and pointing at the center of the stage where everyone is standing.
Ironwood: It goes without saying that this arena holds a significance to all of us. It’s only fitting that we should be able to reconvene here. Now. When the world needs to be brought together more than ever. The road you traveled from our first meeting hasn’t been easy.
While he talks, Ironwood begins walking along in front of RWBY and JNPR. Penny, who is holding a tablet-sized Scroll, excitedly bounces up and down next to Winter, who places a hand on Penny’s shoulder to hold her still.
Ironwood: You fought for your school and your friends at Beacon. You fought for the world and the innocent at Haven Academy and beyond. You faced down terrors people can’t even fathom. That’s not the behavior of students. It’s the behavior… of Huntsmen and Huntresses.
He looks over at Penny, who happily begins humming and walking past JNPR and RWBY, stopping in front of each person to tap on her Scroll. With each tap, her Scroll emits a beep and someone else’s Scroll buzzes. Ren’s Scroll is the first to buzz, and he removes it from his pocket and opens it, checking the screen. It displays his student license, which displays a photograph of him in his new outfit with his emblem in the top left corner and a barcode below the photo. The Vale symbol is in the background behind the license information. The license says:
STUDENT LICENSE BEACON
Name: Ren, Lie
LN: 63700 - 16778 - 13563
Place of Issue: Vale
Authority: Beacon Academy
Restrictions: Class C
The screen blinks, and the license suddenly changes. The Kingdom of Atlas symbol is now in the background behind the information. The new license says:
HUNTSMAN LICENSE Atlas
Name: Ren, Lie
LN: 63700 - 16778 - 13563
Place of Issue: Atlas
Authority: Atlas Academy
Restrictions: Class C
Ren: Wait... what is this?
Everyone else checks their Scrolls as Penny continues tapping hers.
Winter: You are being granted your Huntsman licenses, today.
Penny finishes using her Scroll to grant everyone their licenses and walks away with a big grin. Her Scroll displays the Atlas Huntsman License Registry.
Ironwood: I know this is coming a little ahead of schedule, but Brothers know you deserve it. I only regret that I couldn’t do something a little more ceremonious for the occasion.
Ruby stares in awe at her license.
Ruby: I-- (glancing at her friends) We… we’re honored, General Ironwood. But you really don’t have to do th--
Ironwood: Please. With the threat of Salem still out there and tensions rising in our kingdom, I certainly could use more trustworthy fighters by my side.
As Ironwood walks away from them, Team RWBY look at each other. Yang and Weiss’ faint smiles fade, and Blake’s cat ears droop.
Ironwood: I should be so lucky to have all of you.
He stops for a moment, then looks at Team RWBY and smiles.
Ironwood: It’s okay. It’s a big moment. (walking again) And what better way than to celebrate here? When this tower is ready and communications are back up and running, we’ll tell the world about Salem and face down whatever comes at us after that, together.
RWBY and JNPR stand in silence.
Ironwood: (sighs) That’s… just about all the pomp I have in me. (awkwardly adjusting his tie) If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to running this operation. Um… (turning away) Well, then. Enjoy the cake.
Ironwood walks away, with Winter following. Penny pops up with a hand raised in the air.
Penny: (encouraging tone) Your speech outros are improving, sir!
RWBY and JNPR look at their licenses.
Yang: After everything we’ve been through, I almost forgot this is what I wanted in the first place.
Blake: When Beacon fell, I didn’t think this would even be possible.
Weiss: It almost feels trivial now.
Qrow: Geez, guys, lighten up a little. Enjoy yourselves for a change. You’ve earned it.
Nora: Finally! Someone said it. Let’s kill some cake, huh?
Nora moves forward, throwing a fist in the air.
Nora: Because I can eat two slices before Ren even eats one. Who says I can’t? Who says it, huh!?
Ren: Nora, nobody is arguing with you about this.
A short while later, all of the teens except Ruby gather around a cake. Ruby instead sits nearby in the bleachers. Penny uses six of her swords to cut the cake into even slices. Weiss and Ren stand together, eating their personal slices, and Nora moves over to them with a stack of six slices. Ren and Weiss stare in surprise as Nora eats an entire slice in one bite.
Yang shows off her prosthetic arm to Penny, who looks at it in awe. Yang then offers to shake Penny’s hand with the prosthetic arm, a sneaky grin on her face. Penny happily takes her hand, only for the arm to detach, causing Penny to gasp in surprise. Yang and Nora laugh, and after a moment, Penny laughs, too.
Blake stands alone, eating her cake in calm silence. Suddenly, Yang swiftly moves up beside Blake, putting her arm around her and holding up her Scroll with the camera function on. Blake looks at Yang with wide eyes and a confused smile, and when the Scroll’s camera begins rapidly clicking, she turns her head and grins at it with a small, awkward laugh.
Ruby watches as Yang continues to take selfies with Blake, Nora talks with Penny, and Jaune talks with Weiss and Ren.
Qrow: Big day for you, huh, kiddo?
He walks over and sits next to Ruby.
Ruby: It’s… definitely a lot to take in.
Qrow: Which part? The finally getting to Atlas part, getting your license part, or the not quite disclosing everything to Ironwood part? Or… all of the above?
Ruby: (soft laugh) All of the above. I’m trying to do what I think is best, but I really can’t tell if what’s best is what’s right, or if I’m no different from Oz.
Qrow: Ruby, Oz only trusted himself with the whole truth. You’re trusting others, but you’re making sure they prove themselves first. I think that’s a pretty big difference.
Ruby: I hope so.
She withdraws her Scroll and looks at her license.
Ruby: This says I’m a Huntress now. But I don’t feel like I know much more than I did at Beacon.
Qrow: (laughs a little) That feeling never goes away. Your mom, Summer, would be proud of you.
She smiles at him, but that smile soon fades as she thinks to herself.
Ruby: Her… last mission. Was that another Oz secret?
Qrow: Hm. There were a lot of those back in our day. But this one was a Summer secret. When she didn’t come back, Ozpin seemed just as in the dark as myself and your father. Still, who knows what he may have hidden from us over the years.
Ruby: What do you think she would’ve done if she learned the truth about Salem? That she can’t be destroyed.
Qrow: Pressed on, I think. Like you. She was always the best of us.
He pulls Ruby over to rest her head against his shoulder, smiling.
Qrow: Bit of a brat, though. But hey, I like brats.
Ruby playfully elbows him in the ribs and laughs.
Yang: Hey, Ruby! Come check this out!
Yang points behind herself with her thumb. Ruby zooms over to the group, who are staring at something.
Ruby: (gasp) Oh my gosh, is that a mission board? It’s an app now!?
She zooms over to the mission board, pointing at different missions.
Ruby: Can we ride a Megoliath? Stop an underground crime ring? Do I get to go…
She turns away, puts on her hood, and turns back to Penny, doing a dramatic expression.
Ruby: (fake accent) ...undercover?
Ruby flares her cloak out, knocking the hood off her head, and begins shaking Penny up and down.
Marrow’s voice comes from nearby, and Ruby stops shaking Penny.
Marrow: Hey, do you guys smell that?
He walks in with Elm and Vine, dramatically sniffing the air.
Marrow: Smells like… fresh meat.
Vine: (sniffs) That’s odd. I don’t smell meat.
Ren: (sniffs) Neither do I.
Marrow: (groan) You know what? Nevermind.
Elm: Let me get this straight. You’ve only been official for an hour now and you’re already looking for Huntsman work?
Weiss: (holding up a finger) To be fair, we’ve been official for a whole…
Weiss withdraws her Scroll and checks the time. It is 8:42.
Weiss: (disappointed) Fifty-seven minutes.
Nora playfully rolls her eyes at Weiss.
Vine: I’d like to remind you all that the real mission here is ensuring the successful launch of the communications tower.
Ren: True, but we can also keep training and improving by helping where we can.
Elm: (happy sigh, does a fist pump) The enthusiasm of youths!
Marrow: Well, it’s hard to argue with that. Okay, let me show you how it works.
Marrow walks over to the mission board, scrolls up on it and selects an Escort mission.
Marrow: Ooh, here’s an important one. Who wants to volunteer?
He turns to look, and RWBY and JNPR all raise their hands, calling out “Yes!” and “Alright!”
Marrow: We need someone to escort children to pre-primary school down in Mantle. There’s not actually any danger, but the parents fret, and that attracts Grimm.
Everyone but Jaune drops their hands down.
Marrow: Perfect! Thanks… (uncertain) Juan… Jwan… Jim?
Jaune: Close enough, I guess. (awkward chuckle) Wow, my first Huntsman mission.
Elm slides over and knocks Marrow aside with her palm, causing him to scream.
She quickly swipes down on the mission board, causing the missions to scroll by rapidly. She slaps one of the missions, bringing up a Search and Destroy mission with an image depicting a rotating 3D model of a Sabyr.
Elm: A massive Sabyr is loose in the Mantle sewers! We need two brave warriors to flush it out!
Everyone but Jaune raises their hands, gasping excitedly, and Jaune looks around, bewildered.
Jaune: Wha-- But-- Why didn’t I get a choice for that one?
His friends begin laughing at him.
Jacques sits alone in his dimly lit office, drinking from a glass with a spherical ice cube in it. The door opens partway.
Whitley: (nervous) Father, you, um… have a visitor.
Jacques slams his glass down on the arm of his chair.
Jacques: I told you I didn’t want to be disturbed. Why did you let them in?
Whitley: I didn’t. He... let himself in.
Arthur Watts grabs the door and pulls it the rest of the way open, walking into the room as Whitley moves out of his way.
Watts: A spitting image of you, this lad, Jacques. Creepily so, I might add.
Whitley stands in the hall, holding the door open and watching as Watts walks around Jacques’ office.
Watts: He’s definitely inherited your… affect.
Jacques: (shocked) Arthur.
Jacques takes a second to gather himself, then looks at Whitley.
Jacques: (commanding) Whitley, leave us. And shut the door.
Whitley looks confused and then looks suspiciously at Watts.
Jacques: I said shut the door!
Jacques once again slams his glass down, and Whitley closes the door. Jacques turns his attention back to Watts.
Jacques: I-- You’re supposed to be dead.
Watts: That is what I wanted people to think. You’re right. However, I’ve heard things about you too, Jacques. Namely, that you have an Ironwood problem.
Jacques: That bastard is costing me more money every day with this embargo. I’d lay off every employee in Mantle if I wasn’t trying to get their damn votes for this Council seat.
Watts sits in the chair next to Jacques’.
Watts: What if I said you can have your cake… and eat it, too?