The fate of Humanity requires our heroes to infiltrate the most heavily-guarded facility in Atlas -- all in a day's work.

"Strings" is the third episode of Volume 8 and the ninety-fifth episode of RWBY. It premiered for Rooster Teeth FIRST members on November 21st, 2020 and was made public on the Rooster Teeth site on November 28th, 2020.


Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, Penny Polendina, Nora Valkyrie, and May Marigold arrive in the Atlesian Command Center. They use May's Semblance of invisibility and Penny's directions to reach Central Command, where Penny uses Pietro Polendina's credentials to enter. May objects that she cannot get them through, but Penny explains that Ruby's Semblance should be able to carry all of them.

James Ironwood has ordered Arthur Watts to hack into Penny. Watts notices the apparent login by Pietro. The compound goes into lockdown, blocking the infiltrators' exits, but May points out a hangar. May trips an employee carrying coffee, giving Ruby the chance to rush the others past as Penny suggested.

Penny allows herself to be controlled remotely by Pietro, who enters the necessary commands, while Blake worries about the split between Ruby and Yang Xiao Long. Nora, trying to reassure Blake, lets slip her misgivings about Lie Ren. Blake responds that others can become a part of oneself, and Nora wonders who she is without Ren, to which Weiss responds she should something do only she can do. Pietro says that Penny will mimic the Atlas terminal to launch Amity Communications Tower, and that she should remain on it despite her misgivings about abandoning Mantle.

The five of them are confronted by the Ace Operatives, who want Penny to surrender the Relic of Creation to Ironwood for safekeeping. Penny seals the other four in the control room to fight the Ace-Ops herself, and they briefly subdue her. Inside, Nora uses her Semblance to absorb power from the electrified door and break it, knocking her out and scarring her. Ironwood starts to order reinforcements, but Watts stops him. Harriet Bree cuts one sword loose from Floating Array, and the Ace-Ops retreat with it. The five of them go to the hangar, where May has already stolen a ship. May rams the ship through the sealed hangar door; Penny says goodbye to the others and flies away.

The stolen sword is given to Watts, who suggests he can use it to "make them join you".


Sounds of things going up pneumatic tubes are heard clanging, until it stops. Ruby Rose is heard breathing heavily, before gasping for breath. She is helped out of the tube by May Marigold and Penny Polendina. Weiss Schnee can be seen angrily pulling Nora Valkyrie by her ear.

Nora: Ow, ow, ow! C’mon that was a once in a lifetime experience!

Weiss lets Nora go. Nora's right ear turned red.

Nora: (rubs her ear) Ow.

Blake Belladonna can be heard stepping out of another tube, her hair messy from the unorthadox method of travel.

Blake: Good. Because I never wanna do that again.

Blake fixes her unkempt hair. The group proceeds forward.

May: Alright robo-girl, you’re up. Which way?

Penny uses her eyes to view the area ahead in a wireframe view.

Penny: (points in various directions as she says them) We’ll cross the bridge, then go left, straight, right, straight, left, up, up, right, straight, right, right, straight, left, left.

Everyone (except Ruby, who looks smug) stares at her, dumbfounded.

Penny: And my name... is Penny.

Ruby: (crossing her arms and smiling slyly at May) Heh.

May: Tsk...

May activates her Semblance, hiding everyone from view. They are later seen in an elevator. They hear the elevator door open, and back away cautiously when they see a pair of Atlas Soldiers enter. The soldiers are oblivious to the group's presence due to May's Semblance.

Soldier 1: I don’t think even the squad captain knows what’s going on up there. They can’t get close to that storm without getting shocked right out of the air.

Soldier 2: It’s creepy, all those Grimm just… waiting. Worse than if they’d attacked--

Soldier 1: Hey, don’t say that! You’ll jinx us.

Penny motions for the group to follow her, and they discreetly squeeze past the soldiers, headed for the elevator door.

Soldier 2: I just hope the C.O. can get us some answers soon, or-

On the way out, Nora flashes a mischievous grin and swipes her hand over the elevator controls, tapping the button for every floor. The pair of soldiers are now alone in the elevator. Soldier 1 glances at the elevator controls, then does a double take.

Soldier 1: Huh?

The doors to the elevator close again. The group makes its way down a wide corridor to a large locked door with "03" in large print on it. Penny stops by a nearby control panel and extends her index finger. The tip swivels out to reveal a connector plug, and Ruby's eyes grow wide.

Ruby: Cool.

Penny interfaces with the control panel, and the attached handprint scanner flashes green. A hologram display pops up, showing Dr. Pietro Polendina's credentials.

Computer: Welcome back, Doctor Polendina.

The door slides open with a whoosh, and the group steps through.

May: Alright, where to next, Penny?

Penny: Right through central command!

A door to the right opens to reveal a bustling workplace filled with digital workstations, holographic maps, and Atlesian officials and clerks.

Weiss: Of course.

May: I can’t maneuver us through all that.

Penny: Do not worry, Ruby is capable of traveling at an extreme velocity from one point to another by breaking herself down to her molecular components, thus negating her mass and then reassembling them at the destination, theoretically making it possible for her to transport all of us in the same way, as mass no longer matters.

A cartoonish series of animated infographics pops up next to Penny as she talks, illustrating the effects of Ruby's Semblance. However, Ruby looks dumbfounded.

Ruby: I, uh, what?

Penny: You can use your Semblance on all of us.

The infographic disappears in a burst of stars. Ruby still looks stunned.

Blake: (gestures at her, amused) Did... Penny just figure that out before you did?

Ruby: Blake, she knew you were a Faunus before I did!

Elsewhere in the complex, General James Ironwood meets with Arthur Watts. He enters the room, adjusting his mechanical left arm and straightening his tie.

Ironwood: Apologies for the delay, today has been… busy. Have you made any progress?

He circles around a workstation to where Watts is working. A revolving wireframe of Penny is displayed on one screen, and a recorded video feed of her standoff with Cinder plays on another. Lines of code scroll across the screen as he types.

Ironwood: I’d hate for us to have to try motivating you… Again.

The general claps his hands on Watts' shoulders in a threatening gesture, causing the latter's eyes to widen in surprise, pausing his work momentarily.

Watts: Given what we’re after, I’ve got all the motivation I need. Sadly it doesn’t make taking down Pietro’s magical science project any less cumbersome.

Ironwood releases his grip on Watts' shoulders as he continues typing.

Ironwood: Oh, I trust you can come up with something.

Watts: Oh, the trust is palpable.

A wide shot reveals four Atlesian soldiers standing in a firing stance, their guns leveled at Watts. A red security alert pops up on Watts' screen, and he pulls up a map of the military complex.

Watts: Speaking of the man, are you aware that dear Dr. Polendina is gallivanting around your military compound?

Ironwood leans down to inspect the screen. A window with text reading "DR. POLENDINA'S CREDENTIALS IN USE" can be seen.

Watts: Unless, of course, someone else is using his credentials.

The general lets out a frustrated growl.

Ironwood broadcasts an announcement throughout the complex.

Ironwood: A security threat has been detected in the compound, status alert level 3: red. Lockdown initiated. Authorization granted to handle ANY threats with lethal force.

Red emergency lighting activates and sirens start to blare as the infiltrating group listens in dismay.

Weiss: You've got to be joking!

Penny's eyes glow as she inspects the system.

Penny: The pneumatic tubes have all been closed off.

Blake: We’re trapped.

May: We passed a hangar, I can hijack an airship and get us off this floating rock.

Penny: Wait, we can still succeed. We are so close.

Nora: Hmm…

Nora looks thoughtful, then snaps her fingers as if she has an idea.

An office worker carrying a cup of coffee walks by. May sticks out her foot and trips him. He loses his grip on his mug, and the coffee spills all over a workstation, causing it to spit sparks of electricity. Its operator's lap is also drenched, and he cries out in pain.

Operator: Read the sign, Bill! Read the sign!

The camera pans over to a hand-drawn poster depicting a burger, fries, and drink suspended in the water over a large shark-esque Grimm, a la the famous Jaws (1975) poster. A majority of the room's occupants turn to stare and shake their heads at Bill.

Operator: Why don’t you ever just pay attention?! You’re in here late all the time, your coworkers-

The scalded operator bursts out of the room, bellowing in pain, and leaves the door open behind him. As the workers continue to complain to Bill, Ruby uses her Semblance, taking Weiss, Blake, Nora, and Penny with her. They manage to sneak pastundetected.

Office guy: (still complaining to Bill) You put salmon in the microwave!

As his complaints are drowned out in the noise, Ruby releases her Semblance, striking a pose. Nora and Penny look at her in awe, Weiss smiles, while Blake holds onto the wall with a terrified look on her face.

Blake: Another thing I don’t wanna do ever again.

The five girls make their way along a raised walkway in a cavernous and deserted chamber. At the end of the walkway is a heavily electrified door.

Penny: Stand back, please.

Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Nora get ready to draw their weapons as Penny interfaces with a control panel, deactivating the electricity and opening the door. As the overhead lights come on, a secluded room filled with terminals is revealed. Ironwood's terminal sits at the back wall.

Ruby: Uh, where is everyone?

Penny: This is a highly classified area.

The girls make their way inside, and the door closes and electrifies itself again. Nora briefly stops to regard it before moving on. Penny sits in the office chair by Ironwood's terminal and braces herself, taking a deep breath before contacting her father.

Penny: Hey dad? I’m ready.

Penny's eyes turn yellow. She starts speaking in Pietro's voice, and her movements are considerably more stiff and jerky.

Pietro: Ahem. This process is a… little complicated. So I’m remoting into Penny from Amity Colosseum.

Ruby: I…. see.

Penny begins her work on the terminal as Ruby watches on. The other three idle by. Blake swivels around a few times in an office chair.

Blake: I hope the others are okay. I’ve never seen Yang and Ruby fight like this.

Weiss: Don’t worry, they’re sisters. Sometimes sisters just have very different ideas about what’s right.

Nora: Yeah, they’ll be fine. Jaune’s a great leader, Oscar’s grown a ton, and Yang is more than capable of protecting them all in a fight.

Blake and Weiss wait for her to continue. When she doesn't, they both tilt their heads in puzzlement.

Blake and Weiss: Hmm.

Nora: Oh, and of course Ren is- um...

Nora's usual happy-go-lucky composure breaks, and she averts her eyes.

Nora: I don’t know what he is. Every time I think the two of us are making progress, he… (sighs) We’ve been together our whole lives but I feel like I understand him less now than ever. And I don’t know if that’s his fault or mine.

Blake: When you’ve been at someone’s side for so long, after a while they become a part of you. But that’s just it, they’re only a part of you. Don’t forget about the rest.

Nora lets out a mirthless chuckle.

Nora: I don’t actually know who I am… without Ren. Pretty sad, huh?

Weiss: Well, maybe take this opportunity to find out? Do something only Nora can do.

Nora: Like what? Be strong and hit stuff?

Weiss steps forward to comfort Nora, but some loud keystrokes distract them, and the girls join Ruby and Penny at Ironwood's terminal. As Pietro speaks through Penny, Weiss turns to Ruby for an explanation, but she can only shrug in response.

Pietro: I just have to… There. Downloading the cloned imprint now. When Penny gets to Amity, we’ll run the launch sequence. Amity’s computer will try to connect to the general’s terminal but get Penny instead.

Penny's eyes go back to green.

Penny: And after the launch, I’ll return to help you all with the evacuation.

Pietro: (coughs) About that, Penny. When Amity goes up, I think you should be on it with Maria and I.

Penny's cheerful expression is replaced by an anxious one. The rest of the girls trade conflicted looks.

Penny: But they need me here. Right?

Ruby: Well, if you stay far out of Salem’s reach, then she can’t open the vault. She can’t get to the relic. So...

Weiss: Maybe it is for the best?

Blake: Um, we should probably head to the hangar.

Back at the room's entrance, Penny glumly deactivates the electrified door again.

Penny: I guess we all have to do some things we would rather not.

To the girls' surprise, the doors open to reveal Harriet Bree, Elm Ederne, Vine Zeki, and Marrow Amin.

Harriet: Hello, kids. Time to come home now, Penny.

The infiltration team draws their weapons.

Weiss: So your first time losing to us wasn’t enough?

Marrow: We were holding back!

Vine: We have all said some things we regret, but please, hear me out. I know you thought you were doing the right thing when you left with the Maiden power, but Salem is here now. Things have changed.

Vine slowly steps forward to reason with them. With the exception of Penny, all the girls stare him down resolutely.

Penny: If General Ironwood plans to leave Mantle behind nothing has changed.

Vine: (sighs) I thought you were supposed to protect the people, not hurt them.

Penny: I would never hurt anyone.

Elm: Well Winter’s in critical condition, because of you.

Harriet: And you repaid her by stealing the power that should have been hers.

Penny: But taking the Maiden power was the only way to stop--

Harriet: If you keep refusing to do the right thing, people in Atlas AND Mantle are going to die.

Marrow: You could stop all of this, Penny. Just open the vault, hand over the relic, and you’ll save Atlas.

Ruby: But it won’t save Atlas. Salem will find her way to the relic no matter where you go. Once Ironwood opens the vault, the relic is--

Harriet: One more word, and I’m throwing you in jail right next to your uncle, runt.

Ruby makes to move forward, incensed, but Penny holds her back, balling up her fists.

Penny: Leave. Her. Alone.

Harriet: And what are you gonna do about it, tin can?

Penny steps forward beyond the room's threshold, and Harriet remotely activates the electrified door. Penny only has time to turn around before she is separated from her friends.

Ruby: Penny, no!

Now alone, Penny turns back to face the Ace Ops, green Maiden-flames rising by her eyes.

A small breeze picks up, blowing in the Ace Ops' direction. It grows to the point of Penny's enemies needing to brace themselves. Finally, Penny sends an air current barreling forward, knocking the Ace Ops off their feet. Vine grabs a nearby railing with his Semblance and Harriet and Elm land on their feet, but Marrow has to grab Elm's hammer Timber to regain his footing.

Harriet uses her Semblance to move against Penny's wind while Vine uses his to boost himself up out of the airflow, landing behind Penny. The Winter Maiden turns around to face him.

Penny: You will NOT hurt my friends!

The wind lightens up somewhat. Penny releases her Floating Array swords, using them to defend against Vine's Semblance. Behind her, Harriet zooms into her blind spot, hammering her with a barrage of high-speed blows. Penny finally catches Harriet in the chest with her swords, causing the Ace Operative to take a spill.

Before Penny can strike again, one of Elm's rockets hits her in the back, sending her flying. Marrow and Harriet keep the pressure on her, but she's able to counter Harriet's attack. Penny uses her Maiden powers again, a dark cloud materializing overhead. Chunks of hail begin to fall, distracting Marrow long enough for Penny to kick him off the walkway. Vine uses his Semblance to pull his teammate back to safety.

Vine: Harriet! Elm!

Elm moves forward, planting herself in place using her Semblance. Harriet leaps onto her hammer, using her own Semblance to launch off as Elm swings. She catches Penny unaware, landing multiple hits. The Winter Maiden sends her swords forward, but Harriet blocks them. Behind her, Elm swings her weapon in a circular fashion as in a hammer throw, and Harriet backflips out of the way just in time to avoid the hammer as her teammate hurls it.

On the other side of the door, Weiss attempts to use her Arma Gigas to break it, but the electricity running through it proves fatal for the summon.

Weiss: Four versus one? Cowards.

Ruby: Penny’s the Winter Maiden, I’m sure she can hold her own for a little bit.

Elm's hammer catches Penny in the chest, sending her flying back. Vine attacks with his Thorn blades but Penny holds him and Harriet back. Elm is able to catch her in a bear hug from behind and stop her from using her Maiden powers. The wind dies down completely as Elm tightens her grip. The Ace Ops are given a moment's reprieve before Penny's Maiden-flames start up again. She knocks her enemies back in a brilliant flash of blue light.

Harriet: Marrow!

Marrow throws his boomerang Fetch at Penny, knocking her off the walkway. She soon flies back up, readying her swords to use her laser attack, but marrow snaps his fingers, pointing at her.

Marrow: Stay!

Penny gasps as she's forced to freeze. Vine drags her back onto the walkway where she collapses in a heap.

On the other side of the door, Nora grows frustrated with her situation, moving closer to the electrified door.

Nora: We have to get out there… Be strong--

Nora brandishes her hammer Magnhild.

Nora: And hit stuff.

Weiss: Nora, wait!

Nora jams her hammer into the door's power supply, siphoning off the electricity. She begins to scream from the strain of channeling so much power. Pink streaks appear on her arm, chest, and neck, and her hair starts to stand on end. Still bellowing, she lets loose on the door with her hammer, disappearing in the ensuing explosion of black smoke.

Meanwhile, Marrow is still paralyzing Penny with his Semblance. Elm has her lying prone, and is about to clamp a pair of Gravity Bolas around her wrists.

Marrow: Hurry up, Elm! I can't--

The door explodes outwards from Nora's attack, sending everyone off their feet in a blast of black smoke. As the Ace Ops recover, Nora is seen in the doorway, clutching her hammer and breathing heavily, still crackling with pink electricity.

Nora: That was pretty awesome.

Nora's aura shimmers and breaks. She faints, her upper body covered with electrical scars.

Penny: Nora!

Penny runs forward to check on her fallen ally as Ruby, Weiss, and Blake step forward to face the Ace Ops, their weapons at the ready.

Elsewhere, Ironwood is watching the fight on his Scroll.

Ironwood: Damnit, that was our chance! I need all available squads to converge on--

Watts: Wait.

Watts turns around in his chair.

Watts: I have a message for your operatives.

Penny hovers above her allies, green thunder crackling in a large thundercloud overhead. An inaudible order comes through from Ironwood to the Ace Ops' private comms.

Harriet: But general, we--

Marrow: We understand, sir.

Harriet turns to look at Marrow.

The girls press forward, Penny sending her swords at the Ace Ops. Vine and Marrow dodge them, and the former uses his Semblance to send Ruby, Weiss, and Blake tumbling off the walkway. Marrow narrowly dodges being swept off as well. Ruby manages to catch the edge of the walkway with Crescent Rose, but Blake and Weiss lose their grip on her hand and drop down. Ruby uses her Semblance to carry them to safety.

The Winter Maiden is left to fight Harriet alone again. The Ace Op grabs one of Penny's swords and pulls hard, snapping the wire that connects it to her. Ruby, Weiss, and Blake land back on the walkway as Elm takes stock of the situation.

Elm: Tch. Let’s go.

The Ace Ops take their leave, jumping off the walkway on their own terms one by one. Marrow pauses to look back at the girls before vaulting over the railing himself.

Weiss: Uh, that was-

Blake: Very suspicious?

Penny stows her weapons and hurries over to Nora, hauling her upper body into her lap. Nora briefly opens her eyes and groans before falling unconscious again. Penny reaches for Nora's hammer, but a spark of pink electricity arcs off it, preventing her from touching it.

Ruby and the others enter the hangar with Penny carrying Nora in her arms and Magnhild strapped to her back. Even while unconscious, Nora's brow is furrowed. They look around the empty chamber until they hear a whistle.

May: You coming or what?

Ruby and the others move forward, entering May's invisibility field.

May: All ready to--

May gasps when she sees Nora's condition.

Blake: She’s in bad shape. We need to get her somewhere safe.

Penny looks at Nora with a worried expression, but it soon turns resolute. Her Maiden's eye-flames light up. A minor explosion blasts a hole in the wall of the military compound, and May's Manta soon comes flying through it into the open sky. Inside, Penny gently lays Nora down on the ground face-up.

Penny: I’m so, so sorry.

In the backseat, Ruby tries to comfort Penny with a smile, but the Winter Maiden is inconsolable.

Penny: It is time for me to go, isn’t it?

Ruby pulls Penny into a hug.

Ruby: We’ll see each other again really soon, I promise.

Behind Ruby's back, Penny catches Weiss and Blake's gazes, and they look at her reassuringly. May presses a button on the console, retracting the windshield. Penny climbs onto her seat, and with one last salute, flies off, headed for Amity Colosseum.

Elsewhere, Ironwood inspects the fruits of the Ace Ops' work, holding Penny's sword in his hands.

Ironwood: Good work.

Harriet: Tch, good work would have been capturing Penny.

Watts: Well, you know what they say.

Ironwood hands him the sword.

Watts: If you can’t beat them, then make them join you.


Minor Characters


  • The name "Strings" refers to Penny. She is based on a puppet and her weapons are controlled through strings.
  • In a deleted scene from this episode, May calls Ironwood a bastard after the alarms of the military base are sounded.[1]
  • This is the only episode where Vine opens and attacks with his weapon Thorn.
  • The shot of the Ace-Ops confronting Ruby's Group and Penny in the Atlesian Central Command was lighter in the Volume 8 Teaser and Trailer.
  • Kiersi Burkhart claimed to have fought pretty hard to get the chance to write this episode, while Kerry Shawcross believed that everyone was scared to write it and Kiersi volunteered to do it.[2]
  • The scene where Penny explained Ruby's Semblance was inspired by similar sequences from the manga and anime series "Dr. Stone".[3]
  • During the scene where Bill is being scolded for not following the rules, they had a bunch of animators come in to record made up complaints about what he has done. Dustin Matthews said his favorite complaint was "You put salmon in the microwave!" which can be heard as Ruby's Group move up the stairs with her Semblance.[4]
  • Nora overcharging her Semblance was an early idea in development for Volume 8 and it was originally going to happen at a power plant with an electrified security fence. The initial idea behind it came from Kerry Shawcross looking at Reddit and coming across an image of a person who had been scarred by lighting and he thought that kind of scarring would fit great with Nora.[5]
  • When Ruby's Group quietly sneaks out of the elevator, Nora deliberately pushes all the buttons to prank the two guards inside. This could be a callback to the episode "Field Trip", where Ruby arrives in Ozpin's Office saying "someone accidentally hit all the buttons on the elevator on the way up".

See Also

Image Gallery

Main article: Strings/Image Gallery


  1. Kdin's Twitter
  2. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 3
  3. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 3
  4. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 3
  5. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 3