Howdy folks, how's it going?

Not much to say here, so let's get down to it.

As always, shout out to Chaos Productions for his assistance.

And as always, I own neither RWBY nor TES.

Now, enjoy.

/

As he made his way towards his office, Ozpin could not help but marvel at the lightness that seemed to settle over his shoulders, the smile that seemed to come easily to his lips, so much so that even some of what few students remained at the academy he passed by on his way were taking notice, and starting all sorts of muffled discussions that would no doubt be feeding the Beacon rumor mill soon, but he really couldn't begrudge them that, to his added amusement. The life of the Headmaster of Beacon was one so rife with constant struggles and tragedies and back-breaking work, that he legitimately could not recall the last time he had the chance to feel genuinely happy about something.

Pleased when something worked out, sure, proud when a student did something worthy of being proud of, absolutely, amused by the antics of his peers, definitely, but this? Ozpin ever strove to be polite and approachable, but actual, genuine happiness was a state that the student body had seldom seen him in throughout the academy's vaunted history.

It was not like there weren't still countless burdens weighing on an incomprehensibly tired man, mind you. There were follow ups to be made, preparations and safeguards against inevitable fallout of what had just transpired, many talks and explanations in the near future… But all the same, Ozpin could count on the fingers of one hand the times in his life where such burdens became just a tiny bit lighter, and each and every one was an occasion to be cherished and savored.

He had sworn long ago to never again look to deities and higher powers for guidance or assistance, but in this one occasion, in the privacy of his own thoughts, he could only feel gratitude at whatever anomaly, whatever whim of fate had brought the people of another world to his doorstep.

Such were the musings going through his minds as he approached the elevator to his office, to see a familiar figure standing there, dragging back to earth with the reminder that the work that needed doing started right now.

"Ah, James." Ozpin greeted his friend and ally with a nod. "Glynda said you wanted to see me. Apologies for the delay."

The general blinked, clearly picking up on the good mood, and the headmaster had to hold back a chuckle at the evident confusion.

"Ozpin." Ironwood greeted back primly. "I wanted to ask what happened. Something was clearly up with the way the assignments were handled, but Glynda wouldn't specify. Seems like there was some sort of commotion?"

"Indeed." The headmaster nodded, before walking around the other man and prompting him to follow. "Come, we can talk in my office."

The general nodded again and followed in silence, which was just as well, as it gave Ozpin some time as the elevator went up to ponder how to handle the conversation. James was a friend and an ally, but Ozpin was not blind to the man's tendency for heavy-handedness, and certainly not approving of such stunts as bringing in an entire armada for the festival. Good intentions, but poor execution. Caution would be quite necessary.

Minutes later, he was settling down at his seat, James standing before his desk with his arms crossed behind his back.

"There has, indeed, been something of a commotion." Ozpin started, mentally bracing. "It turns out, the intruder from yesterday was still in the Academy and-"

"What?!" James immediately leaned forward, slamming his hands on the table. There was the expected interruption, although at least Ozpin could appreciate there was enough self-restraint to not leave a dent… "What happened?! Where are they? Let me call my-"

"James." The headmaster stated, calmly, but firmly, snapping the general out of his knee-jerk reaction. "If you would allow me to continue uninterrupted, I can tell you that having your soldiers storming through the academy searching for her is unnecessary. The intruder has been found and apprehended already."

"Her." The general noted in a calmer, pondering tone. "What happened, exactly? Who is she?"

"Her name is Cinder Fall. She infiltrated Beacon as part of a team from the Haven contingent. We've detained all of them, or all three currently present at the academy at least, since upon closer inspection all their files had inconsistencies." The older man replied, causing the general to frown at the revelation.

"What tipped you off? True, my men never found any trace to indicate the intruder had left the premises, but for her to be undercover as a student… a bold move." Ironwood mused, no doubt running through report after report in his mind. "Either she didn't know the purpose of her breach into the CCT was foiled, or she was looking to try again."

"Perhaps. As to how we caught her, you can thank Mr. J'Zargo for that." Came the reply, and the headmaster fought down the slight smirk as his old friend blinked at the words. "A particular quirk of his Faunus heritage has granted him a keen sense of smell. He picked up her scent in the student dorms this morning, allowing us to ambush and capture Fall and her team when they least expected it."

"So we got lucky… Not going to complain, luck can make all the difference sometimes. I should know." Ironwood mused, probably considering the possibility of looking into the faunus in his ranks having any such similar abilities, if the headmaster were to gamble. James was ever a man to secure every advantage he could. "I take it that you found corroborating evidence after that fact? I very much doubt Mistral would be amused with someone in their contingent being targeted in such a manner."

"Besides the inconsistencies in the documentation, I have people looking through the room and the items in there as we speak. And more to the point that you're building up to, I have already confirmed that Fall was the one that took Amber's power." Ozpin replied, and once again the General's professional demeanour shattered at the words.

"Then what are we waiting for?!" The general demanded bringing a fist (fortunately not the metal one) crashing into the table, expressing the frustration Ozpin knew would have been brewing underneath. "For crying out loud, Ozpin, we have the machinery, we can-"

"It's already done." Truly, if it wasn't so necessary for him to be careful about how he went about these revelations, Ozpin would have shown a lot more amusement at how many times he managed to take the wind off James' sails during this conversation. "The transfer finished just before I came to see you. Amber has woken up, and is currently recovering in the infirmary, under some of the best protection I have available."

"…Oh." Was all the general could think to say, awkwardly straightening himself up. "I see. That is… fortunate. Tremendous news, in fact. Apologies, Ozpin, I have to admit I am a bit… surprised, after our last talk on the matter."

Ah yes. Needless to say, James had not been amused with the Headmaster's apparently sudden decision to ease up on trying to find a suitable candidate for a transfer of the Maiden's power. It was honestly easy to explain his reasons in a way that left the expert input he had received from Tristard and his friends out of the equation, but inevitably it had led to an argument. James meant well, and Ozpin had no doubts that he too worried about Amber, but ultimately the military standpoint would be all about assets and how to use them, one of the reasons he disliked the very concept despite its unfortunate necessity.

"I vetoed a potential transfer to a brand new host last time, James, because, once again, we had no way of knowing the potential repercussions, for Amber's soul and the soul of whichever girl we chose. There was simply too much risk of things going wrong when handling something we know so little about. A risk that was very much not worth taking when it could in the worst case scenario cost us two lives and the Maiden's power." He stressed, in a way he knew would appeal to the pragmatist in the general. "But circumstances changed. This time, we had the culprit of the theft. We wouldn't be transferring to a new host, but sending the power back to where it belongs. A less risky gamble, and one that has paid off, probably better than anything that would've resulted from the original plan. I am not above pressing my advantages, James, I just know better than most when it is time to have some patience."

"Hm." James replied at length, clearly pondering on the admonishing tone of those last few words. "I suppose I can't say otherwise, given how it all worked out. And what of this… Fall?"

"Currently in a holding cell. Unconscious, but not comatose. She should wake up, although when is uncertain." Not that Ozpin felt particularly bad about the woman's predicament, but still, they needed to show some common decency. Plus, she could still be a source of intel. "The process seemed… taxing, on both sides."

"This was the pawn, was it not?" Ironwood followed up with a steely stare, cutting straight to the heart of the matter. "She is the one behind the whole thing."

"Of that, there can be no doubt. Once it was done, a small, scarab-like Grimm crawled out of Fall's unconscious body and tried to make a break for it before it was destroyed. I had no idea just how this theft had been possible until I saw it…" The headmaster replied with a grave look, old memories coming to the surface. "She was always a crafty one, always capable of finding someone to do her bidding, but this was something new, something I've never seen before. It was… disturbing."

"I can well imagine. Still, what now? Whatever this plot was, it clearly failed, but there might be more to it than we know." The general asked, once again taking a composed, formal stance. "We need to know what these infiltrators know, just how deep this goes. If you'll allow me custody of the prisoners, I have trained personnel fully capable of leading interrogations. They will talk."

Ah, yes, just the reaction Ozpin had been expecting, and yet another dangerous topic he'd have to dance around carefully. They did need to see what they could pry from her agent, but it wouldn't do for Fall to put the trio in Atlesian sights and undermine his efforts to the contrary…

He had just opened his mouth to reply when a ping went off in his table, signifying that someone was going up the elevator. A quick input brought up the camera, to reveal that it was Oobleck. He had requested the good doctor to be the one spear-heading the room's search, so this was either going to be enlightening or a dampener of his current good mood…

"Hold on, it seems like there might have been developments." He said to forestall any further talk, turning to attention towards the door, which Ironwood picked up on and turned to do the same. A few moments later, Oobleck walked out, blitzing towards the table in is ever expedient manner, holding something in his hand. "Found something, Doctor?"

"I dare say I did." The teacher replied, with a distinctly graver demeanour than usual, bringing up what he was holding, showing it to be an innocuous looking scroll. "There was nothing much in the room that felt out of place for what you might expect of an ordinary team of teenage students. But then I noticed this scroll, which Fall had on her person upon being incapacitated. The device too didn't seem like anything special, until I actually tried to take a look at its contents. Not only does this seem to hold the files carrying the malware she tried to place on the CCT, there's also some worrying messages. There was a follow up to this plot, Ozpin, and we need to take measures asap."

The headmaster and the general promptly turned their full attention to the doctor's finding, their previous discussion left aside for now.

/

In another place, far from the city, a figure approached another.

"Hey, boss. I think something's off. That woman was supposed to give us some sort of go ahead signal, but we've yet to hear a peep from her. No word on Torchwick and his little sidekick either."

"Is that so…" The second person replied, seemingly pondering the implications.

"Should we perhaps call it off, boss? There's a lot that could've gone wrong…"

"No." The other immediately said, rising up from his seat. "We have invest far too many resources into this plan. It's even better like this, in fact. Without word from those humans, that means we're free to go about this our way."

The man smirked, grabbing hold of his blade.

"Tell the men to pick up the pace. I want those trains ready ahead of schedule."

/

A bit of a more dialogue heavy chapter, but as you can see, we are building up to something.

Next time, reactions are had and plans are made.

But before that, in two weeks is the next update to 'Ere We Go, Pluz Ultra!, so look forward to that.

Cya all on the next one, stay safe and take care.