The Special Operatives Unit was a military unit formed of Huntsmen and Huntresses from the Kingdom of Atlas. Members of the unit were given the title "Special Operative", which could be shortened to either "Operative", or "Specialist".[1][2]

The Atlesian Military was known to recruit graduate Huntsmen and Huntresses from Atlas Academy, especially to join the unit.[3] This practice drew criticisms, as Huntsmen were initially intended to be free from allegiance to a specific Kingdom, and the practice also involved pressuring of the graduates and trainees into joining.

The Ace Operatives were a team comprised of the most elite Special Operatives. It was likely that the Special Operatives unit was disbanded along with the Military after the Kingdom of Atlas collapsed in "The Final Word".


During the Vytal Festival Tournament, Winter Schnee arrived in Vale and reported to her superior, James Ironwood, and the two learned from Qrow Branwen that the mysterious infiltrator who had compromised Beacon was also responsible for the comatose condition of Amber, the current Fall Maiden.

After the Fall of Beacon, several Special Operatives were stationed in various Kingdoms to locate and report threats to General Ironwood. After several months, Ironwood closed the Kingdom's borders, calling back the vast majority of his forces to Atlas. Sometime after the Battle of Haven, Ruby's Group were forced to steal a Manta and fought Cordovin's Colossus and Adam Taurus.

After their arrival in Mantle, the group was briefly arrested by the Ace Operatives, a team comprised of the most elite Special Operatives, and taken to Atlas Academy. There, they learned and later began to work alongside James Ironwood and his group in preparing the Amity Communications Tower to tell the world about Salem.

During this time, Clover Ebi was ordered to investigate a series of killings across Mantle, which seemed to be framing Ironwood as a tyrannical dictator. Clover and Winter Schnee discovered the person behind this was Tyrian Callows, confirming Salem's forces had infiltrated the Kingdom.

Winter and the Ace Operatives were called as additional witnesses during Ironwood's trial to determine his claim to an Atlesian Council seat. They played a major role in the Battle of Mantle, aiding in the capture of Tyrian in an ambush. After Ironwood learned of Cinder Fall's infiltration into Atlas Academy, he recalculated his plans to raise Atlas, and the Ace Operatives were tasked with detaining Ruby's Group, during which Clover was killed in an encounter with Tyrian and Qrow, and the others were rendered unconscious.

During this, Ironwood had ordered Winter Schnee and Penny Polendina to claim the powers of the Winter Maiden from Fria. Their process was interrupted by Cinder, who was after the powers for herself. Winter and Penny battled Cinder, the battle resulting in Winter being severely injured as Penny took the Maidens powers and Cinder flees. Winter gave Ruby's Group a head start to flee as she called on reinforcements to help her, too weakened to continue fighting.

In "Divide", the Ace-Ops returned to the Atlas Command Center to mourn the loss of Clover. There, they witnessed Ironwood shoot Sleet, killing him. Angry at Ruby's Group, they made a return in "Strings", attempting to convince Penny to return to Ironwood and unlock the Atlas Vault, or capture her. The group battled the new Winter Maiden, nearly capturing her but failing. They were instructed by Ironwood and Arthur Watts to take one of Floating Array's blades, doing so in order to force Penny to join them.

In "Amity", when the Amity Communications Tower was hoisted into the air and a message from Ruby was delivered to the world revealing the existence of Salem, the Ace-Ops watched the broadcast. During this, when Penny was short-circuited by Watts, the group was ordered by Ironwood to find and take her back, now led by Winter. En route to the mission in "Midnight", the operatives intercepted an open comms broadcast from Yang's Group, ignoring their concerns about the river of Grimm Liquid headed towards Mantle. As they began to argue, a series of earthquakes shook the tundra and Mantle, and soon after, the river of Grimm produced a massive geyser that managed to puncture Atlas' Hard-Light shield, leaving the two groups in shock.

The Ace-Ops then arrested Yang's Group in "War". Upon seeing Monstra, Jaune pointed out that's where The Hound took Oscar Pine, but some of the Ace-Ops insisted that Grimm didn't take prisoners. Winter contacted Ironwood, who informed her of a plan for her and the Ace-Ops to carry a bomb into Monstra to blow it up from the inside. This sparked concern from Jaune, Ren and Yang, who feared this would endanger Oscar, and they insisted on rescuing him first.

Winter listens to the Ace-Ops and Yang's Group debate, silently conflicted. Jaune attempted to convince Winter to let them rescue Oscar by saying the Ace-Ops could use them as a scouting team, but the Ace-Ops felt it was foolish to risk three lives to save one ally. Ren stood and argued that no one is replaceable, and he soon noticed that his Semblance had a new ability - reading emotions. With this ability, he realizes that the Ace-Ops had been fighting how they truly felt about each other, and he even looked down at himself, seeing his own true emotions. Harriet and Elm were angered by Ren verbalizing how they truly felt, and Winter steped in to prevent a fight and stated that they would go through with Jaune's plan. Harriet objected, but Winter pulled rank to silence her and told Yang's Group that they had a time limit. The Ace Ops dropped them off, and just before Ren exited the ship, he told Marrow and Winter that they no longer wanted to be part of any of this.

The members of the Ace-Ops fought against the Grimm during the Battle of Atlas while waiting for the bomb to arrive. While Marrow showed concern about students like Team FNKI fighting and was worried about Yang's Group, the others brushed it off and prepared to deliver the bomb. When Winter still planned to go through with using the bomb while her sister's friends were still inside the Grimm, Marrow asked her if she would still do it if her sister was inside and if she could live with killing them. She stated that she would do what she needed to as a soldier and told Marrow to try and do the same thing. When the Ace-Ops prepared to bring the bomb to Monstra, the Grimm was killed before they even had a chance to use the bomb.

Later when they reported to Ironwood and he asked where Yang's Group was, Harriet informed him that Winter went against orders and let them go rescue Oscar. He stated that he was planning on using them as leverage to get penny back to his side and learned that he still had the original bomb. He then comes up with an ultimatum to get Penny back, either she returned to him within an hour to open the Vault or he would use his bomb to destroy Mantle himself.

While the Ace-Ops originally believed this to be a bluff, Ironwood confirmed that he wasn't lying to them about destroying Mantle and were horrified. While most of them agreed to help him with it, Marrow refused to and stated that he used to wear his rank with pride before realizing that it was a collar. When he prepared to leave the group, Ironwood prepared to kill him before Winter tackled him and arrested him for treason instead.

However, Winter revealed that she had no actual intention to arrest him and wanted to save Marrow from being killed by Ironwood. She called her sister to ask for help dealing with him while also running into Qrow and Robyn again. Later when Ruby's Group seemingly accepted the Ultimatum, the other remaining Ace-Ops go after Qrow and Robyn while Winter continued to pretend to still be loyal to Ironwood. After Ruby's Group gave up the act, Winter gave up the act and helped them defeat Ironwood and the other Ace-Ops are all stopped by Marrow's Semblance. Winter later locked Ironwood in a cell next to her father so he wouldn't interfere with the evacuation process.

After the remaining Ace-Ops heard Jaune's message about Atlas falling while being arrested by Qrow, Robyn and Marrow, Arthur Watts sent a hacked Atlesian Knight-200 towards them and detonated it. This broke Marrow's hold on the Ace-Ops and Harriet immediately ran towards the ship with the bomb and prepared to deliver it herself with Vine, Qrow and Robyn going after her. When Vine tried to talk Harriet out of destroying Mantle because the evacuations had rendered that plan moot, Robyn and Qrow attacked her while Harriet pushed Vine out of the ship after Watts hacked the ship's autopilot.

After the other Ace-Ops convinced Harriet to stop her plans and Qrow managed to stop the bomb from falling out of the ship, Watts armed the bomb himself. Vine decided to sacrifice his life to save his friends from the bomb with the others forced to watch as the bomb detonates. Later, the remaining Ace-Ops along with Qrow and Robyn all watch as Atlas falls into Mantle and both cities are destroyed when they flood.

Notable Members

Former Members

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  • Due to the Special Operatives Unit being made up of Huntsmen in the Atlesian Military, it is currently unknown if Caroline Cordovin was a Huntress or a regular soldier that became part of the Unit.