After Beacon Academy fell, Coco, Fox, Velvet and Yatsuhashi made a vow: No one else is getting left behind. It's been more than a year since Team CFVY saw their school destroyed by the Creatures of Grimm, their friends felled in battle or scattered across the world of Remnant. Since then, they've been settling into life at Shade Academy in Vacuo, fighting hard to finish their training so they can reunite with their friends and save their world.
When a distress message comes into Shade, asking for Huntsmen and Huntresses to defend refugees from a never-ending stream of Grimm, Team CFVY answers the call without hesitation. But in the heat of the desert, they're forced to relive their former battles, both from the Fall of Beacon and from everything that came before.
It has been a year since the Battle of Beacon, and Team CFVY have since moved to Vacuo to attend Shade Academy. While on a mission, CFVY rescue Slate, the former mayor of Tuff, and escort her to Feldspar. There, they meet Carmine Esclados and Bertilak Celadon, two professional Huntsmen who have been hired to protect the tribe. Carmine and Bertilak had been traveling with Edward Caspian and his grandson, August "Gus" Caspian, all the way from Sumire, a settlement in Vale, which had also been destroyed by Grimm. Slate reveals that emotions have been running at a high rate, which causes CFVY to realize something else is causing people to have emotional outbursts. The team begins to investigate.
There is a flashback to Team CFVY's initiation at Beacon Academy. Coco Adel and Velvet Scarlatina are revealed to have come from Pharos Academy, a combat school in Vale. Fox Alistair grew up as an orphan in Vacuo and had dreamed of attending Beacon. During the Beacon initiation, Fox used his Ada device to help him navigate the Emerald Forest and when he encountered and, as a result, partnered with Coco, the two quickly grew fond of each other. Velvet encountered Yatsuhashi Daichi, who she had assumed would bully her for her Faunus heritage like the people of Mistral had. However, he was friendly toward her. The four encountered each other and worked together to defeat a hoard of Grimm.
In present day, as CFVY continues to investigate the strange emotional outbursts in settlements around Vacuo, they discover that Carmine, Bertilak and the Caspians were involved in every incident. When Velvet and Yatsuhashi talk to Gus Caspian, he reveals that he and Edward have been unintentionally using "mood bombs" to amplify people's emotions and that the two had hired Carmine and Bertilak for protection from the resulting Grimm attacks.
Fox thinks back on his past as an orphan after his parents and, afterward, his honorary uncle, Copper, had died. In the middle of the night, Fox spots Edward walking away from the settlement in his sleep, and Bertilak confronts Edward about leaving. Fox notes that, for whatever reason, he cannot get in sync with his Semblance.
There is a flashback to the beginning of CFVY's second year at Beacon. After witnessing an argument between Ruby Rose and Weiss Schnee, Coco gave Ruby advice that Ozpin had once given her about being a leader. Weiss bumped into and argued with Yatsuhashi and Fox, leaving in embarrassment soon after. Meanwhile, Velvet was being harassed by other students for being a Faunus, and Blake Belladonna intimidated them into leaving Velvet alone. This sparked the two to discuss whether or not Faunus should fight back against harassment, and Velvet went with Blake to hang out with Yang Xiao Long.
Back inside the Caspians' shed, Gus reveals that the reason Fox cannot use his Semblance is due to Gus' own Semblance - the ability to block others' Semblances - which he does not have full control of. He explains that he cannot control it very well and that he has been trying to use it to control Edward's Semblance, which amplifies emotions. This revelation causes arguing, which is interrupted by screams and gunfire outside.
Flashback to Yatsuhashi's past, when he discovered his Semblance.
Carmine, Bertilak and Velvet decide to escort Edward, Gus and Feldspar's citizens to the City of Vacuo as they try to defend against the invading Grimm. In anger, Bertilak taunts Yatsuhashi about the Fall of Beacon, trying to start a fight. Carmine and the rest of CFVY break it up, and they escort the travelers into the desert.
In the desert, a sandstorm separates Coco, Fox, Yatsuhashi and Feldspar's citizens from Carmine, Bertilak, Velvet and the Caspians, who were ahead of the former group. Still unable to use his Semblance, Fox cannot contact Velvet's group. Coco's group reaches Velvet, Gus and Carmine, but Bertilak and Edward have gotten lost. Fox decides to look for the two on his own, and Coco begins to think Bertilak leaving seems odd, considering how he had previously treated Edward for wandering off.
Fox eventually finds Edward in the sand, where Bertilak explains that the others are in danger and that Gus had lied to them. The truth is that Edward is the one whose Semblance blocks others' Semblances and Gus' Semblance amplifies emotions. However, it is true that Gus struggles to control his Semblance. Suddenly, something large and heavy crashes down on Fox, throwing him to the sand.
Flashback to CFVY's mission to Lower Cairn during their second year of Beacon. The team, accompanied by Professor Port, had discovered that the settlement had been wiped out and completely flattened by Grimm. Coco entered a cave, where she recalled a childhood incident where she gained claustrophobia after getting stuck during a game of hide-and-seek with her brothers. In the cave, she found survivors; Linus and Rhea Gray, along with their four children. However, due to another Grimm attack and the panic it caused, the entire family was killed, and CFVY had to return to Beacon.
In present day, Coco, Velvet and Yatsuhashi spot a Flatback Slider, an enormous one-hundred-foot tall turtle that swims through deserts, and Slate suggests riding the slider since they would be safe from the sandstorm on its back. Another sandstorm covers the horizon, but they soon realize a gargantuan Blind Worm is quickly approaching the caravan.
Fox and Bertilak battle each other inside the sandstorm, and Bertilak talks about how his boss, "the Crown", had been interested in people with powerful Semblances. Bertilak had been after Gus' Semblance the entire time, but due to Gus' lies, he had targeted the wrong Caspian. He comments on how the Crown likely has files on all of Team CFVY and how he feels like the Academies had been treating him as a pawn. Eventually, Fox and Edward defeat Bertilak and carry him while trying to warn the other members of CFVY and apprehend Carmine.
Flashback to CFVY's return from their Lower Cairn mission. The team had tried to enter Beacon without being noticed, still thinking about their failure. Velvet stopped to talk to Team RWBY, who worriedly asked her what happened. In fear of frightening the first year students, Velvet lied to them and said there were simply too many Grimm to deal with. After her conversation with RWBY, she was approached by Glynda Goodwitch, who told her that Professor Ozpin wanted to see her. After Velvet told him what happened on their mission, Ozpin lectured CFVY, and Glynda deemed it that CFVY would be in need of faculty supervision for missions until they could prove themselves.
In present, as the Blind Worm approaches the Slider, yet another mood bomb goes off, amplifying everyone's panic. Upon Fox and Edward's arrival, the group realizes that Carmine and Gus have gone missing and spot them at the bottom of a dust devil. Yatsuhashi, Fox and Edward go after Carmine, bringing the unconscious Bertilak with them, and Yatsuhashi uses his Semblance to make Bertilak forget everything that happened that day. Yatsuhashi battles Carmine but is quickly subdued. He and Fox realize that her Semblance is Telekinesis, though it does not compare to Glynda's. Bertilak begins to wake up.
Meanwhile, the Flatback Slider begins to hurriedly swim away from the Blind Worm, which Coco and Velvet attempt to fight. Velvet uses Roy Stallion's saws, causing Coco to sadly remember that Roy was killed by a Nevermore during the Fall of Beacon and that the rest of Team BRNZ have been presumed dead. The Blind Worm throws the Huntresses-in-training to the ground and swallows Coco whole.
Flashback to CFVY's life between the Fall of Beacon and moving to Vacuo. CFVY asked Glynda for permission to transfer to Shade, and she showed support for their decision and wrote a letter of recommendation to Headmaster Theodore.
Inside the Blind Worm, Coco fights to keep calm in the face of her claustrophobia, and she and Velvet manage to injure the Blind Worm enough to cause it to flee. The two race to help fight Carmine and Bertilak, and in the ensuing battle, CFVY, Edward and Bertilak are defeated. The Blind Worm circles back to attack them, and CFVY is saved by Team SSSN, who were on their way to Shade. The two teams apprehend Carmine and Bertilak and safely take the travelers to Coquina, which is protected by Oscuro Academy.
Sun Wukong catches CFVY up on what happened at the Battle of Haven, informing them of the defeat of the White Fang. After returning to Shade, the two teams decide to uncover who or what the Crown is and to bring down the Semblance trafficking ring.
- Professor Rumpole (First Appearance)
- Professor Theodore (First Appearance)
- Slate (First Appearance)
- Bast (First Appearance)
- Hans (First Appearance)
- Topaz (First Appearance)
- Bertilak Celadon (First Appearance)
- Carmine Esclados (First Appearance)
- Iris Marilla (First Appearance)
- Vega Bleu (First Appearance)
- Amaranth (First Appearance)
- Ash (First Appearance)
- Opal (First Appearance)
- Jasper (First Appearance)
- Celestine (First Appearance)
- Beryl (First Appearance)
- Edward Caspian (First Appearance)
- August Caspian (First Appearance)
- Copper (First Appearance)
- Linus Gray (First Appearance)
- Rhea Gray (First Appearance)
- Leander Gray (First Appearance)
- Phoebe Gray (First Appearance)
- Helen Gray (First Appearance)
- Clio Gray (First Appearance)
- The Crown (mentioned)
- On the front cover of RWBY: After the Fall, Team RWBY's original designs for Volume 1 can be seen on Coco's sunglasses. Said artwork of the four members of Team RWBY is derived from their promotional artwork from their respective trailers.
- Prior to the development of RWBY: After the Fall, concepts of what the novel would be included prequel novels for Roman Torchwick and Team STRQ, until finally landing upon a continuation to Team CFVY's story.
- In one draft of the novel, the Summer Maiden was set to make an appearance, rescuing Fox from a battle with Bertilak.
- A draft of RWBY: After the Fall included the return of Penny Polendina, though this idea was later rejected due to her return in "The Greatest Kingdom".