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Their henchmen first appeared in the series proper in the episode "Ruby Rose", under the command of the Roman, but it was later revealed that Roman formally contracted them from Junior Xiong, but was disappointed with their results and had since moved on to an alliance with the White Fang instead.
While not much is known about the organization's past, it is known that sometime prior to the start of the series, the group used to be led by Hei Xiong, the father of Junior. Under him, they'd grown into the most powerful organization in Vale, and had established a deal with Spider - they would each stay in their own turfs (Vale and Mistral, respectively), and ignore each others' operations.
Under Hei Xiong, the Xiong crime family had come to control the Vale Police Department, thus making it so that they had controlled the effectiveness of authorities and allowed them to easily sweep through the kingdom's criminal underworld. However, as noted by Roman, they began to ride on their reputation, notably being less intimidating of a presence than Lil' Miss Malachite.
The group would broker information through nightclubs, such as Junior's.
At one point, the group had some control over the Dust shipments in Vale through corrupt councilman Jimmy Vanille, who was pressured into helping the organization by Hei Xiong. Unbeknownst to the crime family, Jimmy would also steal some supplements from them.
The organization's henchman were dressed in a black suit with a matching hat and shoes, red sunglasses, and a red tie, with a small amount of variation. All of them had black hair with some having a black mustache as well. They all also seem to have the same skin color. However, one henchman, serving as a DJ for the club, had a more elaborate appearance. He wore a large bear mask, which covered his whole head down to his neck. The mask was black with red ears, eyes, snout, and a red outline. The red also seemed to have a glowing effect.
Prior to the start of the novel, Hei Xiong had managed to squeeze out control over Vale's Dust shipments through Jimmy Vanille, who they extort for power. Xiong would become a "family friend" and an honorary uncle to the Vanille's secret daughter, Trivia Vanille, bringing her gifts whenever he visited.
When Roman Torchwick comes to Vale to escape the web of Spider, his heists catch the attention of Hei Xiong. Using his contacts with the police. Xiong has Roman "arrested" and taken to his diner, where he attempts and fails to intimidate Torchwick to place. However, Hei stops when he catches eye of Roman's Spider tattoo, believing the criminal to still be under Malachite's employ. He orders Roman to tell Lil' Miss to honor the deal they'd made, having noticed more Spiders in Vale than usual, and sends him on his way.
Given Roman's lack thereof an affiliation to Spider, this warning goes unheeded, thus the Xiong Family begins to apply more pressure over the city.
When Trivia Vanille - now going by the alias Neopolitan - learns about Spider's plans to use Lady Browning's Preparatory Academy For Girls' spyware to gather information worth billions of Lien in order to take control of Vale, and to kill Roman, she comes to Hei Xiong for help - at first not realizing he is her honorary uncle. Learning of their plan, Xiong decides to wage war with Spider. He also attempts to kidnap Trivia in order to use her as leverage to further cement the control he has over Jimmy Vanille, but fails to do so.
In search for Roman, Xiong and Spider go to war outside the Vanille Estate. Inside, Hei and Beatrix Browning kill Carmel Vanille, but ultimately, neither side claims victory. However, Lil' Miss unintentionally sets off Dust in the estate while Hei is inside, seemingly killing him. After the explosion, each side of the war leave to lick their wounds.
Presumably, Junior takes over the organization. Sometime after this, Melanie Malachite and Miltia Malachite join the group, but it is unknown if they are spies planted by Spider or if they left willingly. Sometime after these events, Roman becomes the kingpin of Vale.
In the "Yellow" Trailer, the Henchman were present in Junior's club when Yang Xiao Long entered. When Yang attacked Junior by grabbing his genitals while threatening him for information regarding her mother Raven Branwen, Junior's Henchmen came to his aid and continued to watch Yang even after she released him.
When Yang launched Junior across the room, his Henchmen rushed in to attack but were easily defeated by Yang in a short amount of time, despite their superior numbers.
The Henchmen were seen under Roman Torchwick's command in the episode "Ruby Rose". They assisted Roman in robbing a Dust shop, called From Dust Till Dawn, of all its Dust. One Henchman, when going to fill up a Dust canister, spotted Ruby and attempted to rob her. After realizing Ruby couldn't hear him, he caught her attention and attempted once again to rob her.
However, this attempt ended in him being knocked out across the store. Another Henchman pulled a gun on Ruby, so she kicked him through the store window. Upon seeing this, Roman ordered the remaining henchman to attack Ruby, but they were all quickly defeated. Roman sarcastically commented that they were worth every cent of what he paid for them. Junior later stated that he never saw these men again, implying that they were arrested by the Vale Police Department.
In "Painting the Town..." the henchmen were seen helping a smiling Junior set up the Club when two of their members came running in and shut the door behind them in a panic while babbling incoherently when Junior asked what's wrong. The two were then sent flying by a small explosion as Yang entered the building. All the henchmen subsequently point guns at her and Neptune Vasilias.
Junior hurriedly made his way through them, shouting for them not to shoot, before nervously coming up to Yang and asking why she's back. She casually said he still owed her a drink before dragging him through the crowd of henchmen to the bar. Later, when Junior stated aloud that he could relate to Torchwick's disappointment with the men he contracted from Junior. The henchmen were seen either standing or walking dejectedly near the entrance in response.
A henchman could be seen in the crowd of spectators of the Vytal Festival Tournament with a bucket of popcorn in "It's Brawl in the Family". Later, in "PvP", when Cinder hijacked the tournament broadcast, the same henchman could be seen in the crowd of spectators holding a bucket of popcorn.
Following the Fall of Beacon, the Henchmen likely abandoned Junior's Club due to Grimm entering the city.
Powers and Abilities
The henchman appeared to be at the bottom rung of their organization and relied heavily on numbers instead of actual skill. They were shown to be no match for Huntsmen of any skill and were usually taken care of in short order.
In terms of weaponry, some of the henchmen fought using a long single-handed axe, while others fought with an extended cleaver that possessed a glowing, red colored blade, somewhat resembling Adam Taurus' blade, Wilt. The henchmen under Roman's command did not use axes, instead wielding a handgun of some kind as well as their usual red-bladed swords. Some henchmen (including the masked DJ at the club) were also seen using automatic firearms, similar in appearance to the real-life Thompson submachine gun.
- Melanie and Miltia Malachite were assumed to be higher-ranking members, being close to Junior himself.
- The Henchmen themselves may be a reference to The Axe Gang, a semi-fictional group of gangsters who have appeared in numerous Hong Kong action movies, such as Kung Fu Hustle.
- Written on their axes is 空頭, written in the traditional Chinese format (the simplified Chinese form is 空头) which can be translated as "bear" (a financial term also known as short). This could be the name or symbol of the group, considering there was also a DJ with a bear mask at the Club and is an additional reference to the story of Goldilocks. Also, it can mean "empty head", a joke on their incompetence.
- After their defeat at the hands of Ruby in "Ruby Rose", Roman sarcastically says, "You were worth every cent, truly you were". It is confirmed in "Painting the Town..." that Roman made a deal with Junior to hire some of his goons, which also explains Roman's appearance in the club in the "Yellow" Trailer.
- The henchmen in "Ruby Rose" were voiced by two kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- RWBY: Amity Arena Card Bio:
- "As information broker for all things Vale, Junior's nightclub is a hotspot for all kinds of characters. Including a minor--- who he almost kissed, beat up his men, knocked the DJ out, pummeled his girls, and punched him so hard, that his club blew up."
- RWBY Volume 1 Cast Commentary