Cinder's Faction (unofficial) is a group of antagonists in RWBY. The group is led by Cinder Fall. Members include Roman Torchwick, Emerald Sustrai, Mercury Black and Neopolitan. The group also has strong ties to the terrorist group White Fang. Cinder and her subordinates ultimately answer to a mysterious individual, Salem.
The beginnings of Cinder's group is portrayed in the episode "Beginning of the End". Prior to the events of RWBY, Cinder began recruiting members for her cause. Her first recruit was a young woman named Emerald Sustrai, at the time a petty thief whom Cinder found use for after witnessing her using her perception manipulation Semblance to steal.
Cinder and Emerald then attempted to recruit the skilled assassin Marcus Black, but he was killed by his son, Mercury Black, before he could be recruited. Thus, Mercury joined the group in place of his father. At Mercury's suggestion, Cinder also recruited Roman Torchwick, a criminal in Vale.
Cinder, Emerald and Mercury then met with the White Fang leader, Adam Taurus, in an attempt to gain the support of his terrorist group. However, Adam denied their offer on the grounds that he was unwilling to sacrifice his men for a human cause.
Cinder's next move was to attack Amber, the Fall Maiden at the time, in an attempt to steal her vast power. After a fierce and protracted battle, Amber was defeated by Cinder, Emerald and Mercury. Cinder then used a mysterious glove to steal Amber's powers, but she was interrupted by Qrow Branwen, who severed the connection before Cinder was able to steal all of Amber's power.
After Amber's defeat, Cinder returned to the White Fang camp with Emerald and Mercury. This time, Cinder was successful in securing the support of Adam and the White Fang through the threat of violence, as well as the offer of Dust and large amounts of cash.
After the battle, Cinder is heard speaking to an unidentified party. Only Cinder's half of the conversation is heard – she explains that Qrow had "severed the connection before it was complete", meaning Cinder was only able to acquire a limited portion of the Fall Maiden's power. Cinder says that this has left her with an "emptiness" and a burning hunger, but also promises she will "claim what is ours".
The next stage of Cinder's plan seemed to entail the collection of Dust. Throughout Volume 1, Vale was struck by a spate of Dust robberies orchestrated by Cinder's ally, Roman Torchwick. Two of these robberies were foiled, the attempted robbery of From Dust Till Dawn was foiled by Ruby Rose, and the attempted heist of a large Dust shipment from Atlas at the Vale Port was foiled by Blake Belladonna, Sun Wukong, Ruby, and Penny Polendina.
Regardless of these few failures, by the beginning of Volume 2, Roman had illicitly amassed huge amounts of Dust, driving up Dust prices considerably. With this achieved, gathering Dust no longer seemed to be the goal, as Cinder moved on to what she called "Phase 2".
Phase 2 of the plan involved Cinder, Mercury and Emerald infiltrating Beacon Academy under the guise of being exchange students from Haven Academy participating in the Vytal Festival. Whilst undercover at Beacon, they gathered intelligence on various students, including Pyrrha Nikos, whom Mercury tested in a sparring match. They add Pyrrha to a mysterious list of people, though the purpose of the list is not revealed.
Later, as most of the staff and students of the school are distracted on the night of the Beacon Dance, Cinder infiltrated the Cross Continental Transmit Tower at Beacon in "Dance Dance Infiltration". She introduced a computer virus into the system and escaped, although Ruby fought briefly with her. After she leaves, all the computer terminals at the CCT display a mysterious symbol: A black Queen chess piece.
A significant attack staged by Cinder's faction involved bringing the Grimm into the city of Vale by loading the stolen Dust onto train carriages in Mountain Glenn. The train then led the Grimm into the city by creating openings in the city's defenses with Dust bombs. This was orchestrated primarily by Torchwick and executed with the support of the White Fang.
While the plan was set off early due to the interference of Team RWBY and Bartholomew Oobleck, and the breach was ultimately contained by a combined effort of Beacon's huntsmen and huntresses and the Atlesian military, Cinder still called the day a success, as despite its deviation from the plan, the danger and destruction was still enough to worry the citizens of Vale.
The aftermath of the attack on Vale was widespread damage to the city. The Vale Council also responded by removing Beacon headmaster Ozpin as head of security for the Vytal Festival, and appointing James Ironwood of the Atlesian military in his place, though it is not known if this was factored into Cinder's plan. The loss of many White Fang in the caves beneath Vale and Mountain Glenn also caused some concern as to the continuing loyalty of the group, but Adam Taurus reassured Cinder that the White Fang would continue to listen to him.
Vytal Festival Tournament
In "Round One", it is revealed that Cinder, Mercury, Emerald and an undercover Neopolitan were formed as a team to participate in the Vytal Festival tournament. The team easily wins their first match and sends Emerald and Mercury up into the doubles round. Emerald was also sent to gather intelligence on Team RWBY by finding out who they would select to move into the next round of the tournament. The group is also seen watching various tournament matches from the sidelines.
In "It's Brawl in the Family", Mercury is alarmed to see that Qrow Branwen, the huntsman that had interrupted their attack on Amber, had reappeared at Beacon. However, Cinder opts to continue with the plan with the assurance that Qrow doesn't know their identities.
Qrow reveals that Cinder's group, or at least Cinder herself, was responsible for the "condition" of "Autumn", likely referring to the Fall Maiden. He also goes on to say that he has "seen the things she has made, and they are fear."
The virus Cinder introduced into the computer system also apparently has the ability to infect other computers connected to the Beacon network, as it infected Ironwood's Scroll after he uses it to project a holographic display of his fleet. Cinder refers to this as a "new access point."
Most significantly, however, it is revealed that Cinder's infiltration of the CCT has given her the ability to rig the Vytal Festival tournament matches by selecting which teams are selected for each match. She then rigs the next match: Emerald and Mercury go up against Team CFVY's Coco Adel and Yatsuhashi Daichi, whom they easily defeat.
Cinder uses Ironwood's access point to look into his files. She finds one on Penny Polendina and states that this discovery will make her plans much easier than she thought.
The next part of the plan takes place during the Vytal Festival singles round. Through her semblance, Emerald makes Yang see Mercury attacking her after their match. In her own defense, Yang breaks Mercury's leg. However, to the public watching the highly televised and publicized fight, it appears as if Yang had attacked Mercury unprovoked.
This causes widespread uproar and anger among the worldwide audience. Their negative emotions capture the attention of the Grimm lurking outside the city walls.
Attack on Vale
Under Cinder's direction, another illusion is played on Pyrrha in a subsequent Vytal Festival match. During the fierce match between Pyrrha and Penny, Emerald uses her illusions to make it appear as if Penny has thousands of swords. In response, Pyrrha responds with an over-strength magnetic pulse using her polarity Semblance, which has the effect of violently destroying Penny, ripping her apart with the wires from her own swords. This reveals Penny's secret synthetic nature to the world at large, and it paints Pyrrha as a merciless killer.
Cinder then relays a message across all of Remnant by hijacking the Vytal Festival broadcast. In her message, she accuses the headmasters of the academies, who call themselves "guardians", of holding too much power and being unworthy of leading. She exposes Atlas' creation of synthetic soldiers disguised as innocent children, and claims that Beacon's students do not show honor or mercy. She also claims that conditions in Mistral are just as dire and concludes that the world is on the brink of war.
The enormous outpouring of negative emotion Cinder stirs up causes hordes of Grimm to swarm into Vale by both land and air. They are able to enter the city undetected, likely through Cinder's interference. As Grimm begin massing in the city, people begin to panic and flee.
In the chaos, Neopolitan frees Roman Torchwick from his imprisonment on the Atlesian airship. Together, they take control of one of the airships and use it to wreak havoc and destruction on Ironwood's fleet in the skies above Vale. They then introduce a computer virus directly into the Atlesian network, which causes all of the Atlesian Knight-200 androids and Atlesian Paladin-290 mechs across the city to go rogue and begin attacking civilians, Atlas soldiers and Huntsmen alike.
Simultaneously, Adam Taurus and the White Fang launch an attack on Beacon Academy, while also releasing captive Grimm across the city from their Bullheads, causing more mass panic. Ultimately, the terror being unleashed upon the city has the effect of awakening an immensely powerful Grimm Dragon that was lying dormant beneath a nearby mountaintop, which flies towards Beacon Academy, spawning more Grimm along the way.
All the while, Mercury Black films the unfolding of these events and broadcasts them to the other Kingdoms from his Scroll, with the intention of spreading more fear. Adam Taurus is reunited with his former partner and protégé, Blake Belladonna, with whom he has a personal vendetta. He wounds her and her teammate Yang Xiao Long, cutting off the latter's arm, but allows them both to escape. After this, the White Fang begins to pull out.
Ruby Rose manages to disable Roman's airship, causing it to crash. During the mêlée, Roman is eaten by a Griffon and Neopolitan is sent flying off into the wind, her whereabouts unknown. The destruction of the airship causes the Atlesian androids and mechs which were running amok around the city to shut down.
Cinder follows Ozpin, Pyrrha and Jaune down to the Beacon Vault in order to claim the rest of the Maiden powers. She then kills Amber with an arrow to chest, causing the rest of the Fall Maiden's powers to join her. She then finally confronts Ozpin face-to-face. They fight briefly, but Ozpin disappears for reasons unknown. Cinder ascends to the top of Beacon Tower and begins communicating with the titanic Grimm Dragon, telling it that this is its home now.
Cinder is interrupted by Pyrrha, whom she kills after a brief but fierce battle. When Ruby Rose, who had arrived to help, sees Cinder executing Pyrrha, the silver-eyed girl unleashes a tremendously powerful and unheralded power, which manifests as a blinding white light. The power "freezes" the Dragon and puts a very abrupt end to the invasion. Cinder was unable to foresee Ruby's attack and was caught off guard. Although she survives the attack, Cinder was left heavily scarred and almost completely mute, with her left eye also damaged.
In the aftermath of Cinder's invasion, Beacon is destroyed, and with it the CCT system, rendering communication between Kingdoms impossible. Ozpin has disappeared. The titanic Grimm Dragon remains frozen and inert due to Ruby's attack, but it is still alive and continues to attract hordes of Grimm to the remains of the school.
However, the city of Vale is under control, and people have attempted to rebuild, though they remain in the constant shadow of the enormous frozen Grimm, which is still visible from the city. People have also begun to deeply distrust each other, due to the fact that the last images received from Vale were of Atlesian Knights slaughtering innocents.
It is revealed that Cinder's designs were merely the first step in a plan orchestrated by a mysterious figure named Salem.
- Main article: White Fang
Cinder's faction formed an uneasy alliance with the White Fang, a revolutionary movement turned terrorist group. While Adam, one of the leaders of the White Fang, is clearly reluctant to work with humans, Cinder appears to have forced him to give her his support through threats and bribery.
The White Fang assist Roman in the operations leading up to his apprehension, despite many members expressing distaste for working under a human. Mercury notes, however, that the White Fang may refuse to listen to them after losing so many members in their recent operations, showing that they are only affiliated but not under Cinder and her groups' direct control. Adam assures them that the White Fang will continue to cooperate on his orders.