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Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se

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The Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se was a ploy orchestrated by Long Feng and the Dai Li to control the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se, by appropriating sovereignty from Earth King Kuei. Long Feng executed this by covering up the Hundred Year War and slowly establishing jurisdiction over the affairs of the city.[1]

The conspiracy was eventually exposed by Team Avatar, and Long Feng was subsequently imprisoned.[4] The conspiracy directly caused the Coup of Ba Sing Se when Long Feng attempted to regain control of the metropolis by negotiating with Azula.[5]

History

Prelude

See also: Peasant Uprising in Ba Sing Se; War of Chin the Conqueror
Kyoshi threatens the 46th Earth King

Avatar Kyoshi threatened the 46th Earth King into accepting a new constitution.

Historically, the Earth Kings ruled Ba Sing Se and the rest of the Earth Kingdom directly, but nevertheless they had to share their power with local kings and rulers due to the kingdom's confederate status. However, around 270 BG, the 46th Earth King attempted to change the Earth Kingdom into an autocratic empire. Because of this and his tyrannical behavior, resistance grew and culminated in an open revolt, the infamous War of Chin the Conqueror. Even though the Earth King barely won the conflict due to Avatar Kyoshi's intervention, the war irreparably damaged his reputation and power. As result, civil unrest arose in the kingdom, especially in Ba Sing Se. Eventually, the peasants of the city revolted against the king's rule, deciding that it was outdated and did not represent their interests. The 46th Earth King remained stubborn, but his attempts to crush the uprising with brute force failed. Again, Kyoshi intervened and forced the king to listen to the peasants' grievances. In doing so, she turned the Earth Kingdom into a constitutional monarchy. However, she also created the Dai Li in return to protect the king's interests. Overall, the Earth King had not only lost much of his former power, but was now also forced to submit to a constitution and its newly formed bureaucratic administration. One position, the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se, was formed to serve as an adviser to the Earth King regarding matters in the city. Over time, officials and bureaucrats began to abuse the constitution and their positions to gather power and wealth; thus, the creation of the bureaucracy and the constitution had the unintended effect of weakening the Earth Kings' grip on power so much that they became almost incapable of any action. Nevertheless, the kings were able to maintain some power as they still had loyal followers, particularly among the Council of Five, the leaders of the kingdom's military.[6][7]

However, a manipulative individual named Long Feng became Grand Secretariat and Head of the Dai Li during the reign of the 51st Earth King, thus uniting the two most powerful positions of the administration in one person. Long Feng was ambitious and power-hungry, however, and desired to further increase his position in the city. With such a man as the second most powerful person in the kingdom and the king's position unstable and weakened, the opportunity for a conspiracy became great. This possibility became a reality when the 51st Earth King died with only a four-year-old child to succeed him.

Establishment

Jet brainwashed

The Dai Li was able to control Ba Sing Se by fear and the art of brainwashing.

After the death of the 51st Earth King, the Grand Secretariat used his powers and advantageous position to mold four-year-old King Kuei into his puppet. This gave him the power to control the city of Ba Sing Se.

Long Feng and his Dai Li agents silenced their opponents and forbade free speech. The Council of Five, the highest authority in the Earth Kingdom military, were unable to resist the conspiracy and therefore were forced to follow Long Feng's orders. The Dai Li also forbade citizens from talking about the Hundred Year War inside the walls, or they would be imprisoned or brainwashed. This ensured that the city would not erupt into chaos.

With the Earth King under his control, Long Feng had complete rule over the city and effectively ruled Ba Sing Se and the rest of the Earth Kingdom in the name of the Earth King. This state of events continued for many years until Avatar Aang's arrival at the city.[1]

Later years

The arrival of the Avatar

Toph and Katara undercover

Toph and Katara disguised themselves as high-society ladies in order to enter a party for Earth King Kuei's pet bear, Bosco.

In 100 AG, late into the conspiracy, Avatar Aang and his friends decided to go to the Ba Sing Se to find their lost sky bison, Appa, and to inform the King of an opportunity to invade the Fire Nation on the Day of Black Sun.[8] After the group destroyed a Fire Nation drill in battle,[9] they ventured into the city as honored guests. Team Avatar, however, immediately became suspicious due to the behavior of their guide, Joo Dee, and many of the citizens of Ba Sing Se.[1]

The arrival of the Avatar was a major threat to Long Feng's hold over the city. Knowing of the bison's importance to the team, Long Feng used a whistle similar to a bison whistle to lure the beast toward him. Once in the right position, he captured Appa and hid him in the Dai Li's base under Lake Laogai to use as blackmail against Team Avatar so they would not reveal his conspiracy.[10]

Team Avatar soon became frustrated at the lack of urgency displayed by the city to their plans for an intended invasion of the Fire Nation. Team Avatar attempted to use an upcoming party for Bosco that was to be attended by the Earth King as their chance to speak with him. The team decided the best way to do this was for Katara and Toph Beifong to disguise themselves as nobles so they could enter inconspicuously; Sokka and Aang would stay and wait.

Sokka and Aang as servants

Sokka and Aang disguised themselves as servants.

At the party, the guard would not let the girls enter at first, but Long Feng arrived, and with him as their escort, they were allowed to enter. Katara and Toph, however, were unable to lose Long Feng. At the house where Team Avatar was staying, Sokka and Aang began to worry, so they disguised themselves as waiters and sneaked into the party. They eventually stumbled upon the girls.

Aang accidentally revealed himself as the Avatar and awed the crowd with his bending tricks. The king soon arrived in a palanquin, and Aang rushed to see him. However, Aang and the rest of Team Avatar were stopped by Long Feng. In his office, Long Feng informed them of the conspiracy and his capture of Appa, blackmailing them into not exposing him and his plans.[1]

Capture of Jet

At the same time, the leader of the Freedom Fighters, Jet, had entered the city. While en route to the capital via ferry, he had met a disguised Prince Zuko, who helped Jet "liberate" some food.[8] After disembarking from the ferry, he saw Zuko's uncle, Iroh, with warm tea that had previously been cold, and marked them as firebenders.[9]

Jet spied on the two with his fellow fighters, Smellerbee and Longshot, who soon questioned his latest decisions and left him. Jet, after attempting discreetely to force Iroh into firebending, became tired of waiting and resolved to face them personally and expose them.[1]

Duel in the tea shop
Zuko fights Jet

Zuko and Jet dueled around the Pao Family Tea House.

Storming into a local tea shop the two were working at, Jet exclaimed that the two hailed from the Fire Nation. Iroh attempted to convince him they were just tea workers, but Jet did not believe it. Zuko defensively grabbed a pair of dao swords from a nearby customer and began dueling with Jet.

The two fought around the tea shop, Zuko slicing at Jet, who jumped into the air to dodge it. The two eventually moved outside, with more and more people crowding around to chatter and watch. The duel was stopped by the Dai Li, who arrested Jet and took him away.

Jet was taken to Lake Laogai and bound where a Dai Li agent proceeded to brainwash him, telling him, "There is no war within the walls ..." Jet attempted to resist, but the brainwashing proved to be successful.[1]

Team Avatar and Jet meet

Team Avatar vs. Dai Li

Team Avatar fought the Dai Li.

Team Avatar continued to stay in the city and began putting up posters a month later in an attempt to find Appa, ignoring instructions to do otherwise. They encountered Jet, who had been living quietly in the city since his brainwashing. They were distrustful of him at first, but Jet eventually gained their trust to the extent where he was permitted to aid in the search for Appa. He told them he had overheard people speaking of his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Long Feng, disappointed in Joo Dee for failing again at keeping Team Avatar quiet, used a brainwashing code to send her to Lake Laogai for further orders.

Team Avatar and Jet looked for Appa at the place the Freedom Fighter heard of, but did not find him. Instead, they were told by an old janitor, who turned out to be a Dai Li spy, to go to Whaletail Island; as they were preparing to exit the city, they stumbled into Smellerbee and Longshot, who had been looking for Jet everywhere. They brought up the duel and Jet's arrest, but he did not remember. After many tests, they realized that Jet had been brainwashed and tried to revive his memory.

After they succeeded in doing so, Jet remembered that he was brainwashed under Lake Laogai. The group ventured to the lake, discovering a hidden base beneath its surface where the Dai Li carried out activities in secret. While searching around, they entered a room where Long Feng and several Dai Li agents were present.[3]

Battle in the chamber
Katara healing Jet

Katara attempted to heal Jet.

The Dai Li attacked the group, but the latter fought them off. Long Feng attempted to escape in the midst of the chaos; Jet and Aang chased after him and eventually confront him. Long Feng attempted to bargain Appa's safe return in exchange for Team Avatar leaving the city but they refused to let him have his way any longer. However, the earthbender used a brainwashing code to turn Jet against Aang. A duel ensued between Aang and Jet, the Avatar pleading with him to break free of Long Feng's grasp. After succeeding by telling him he was a Freedom Fighter, Jet attacked Long Feng, who struck him with an earth pillar, mortally wounding him.

Long Feng disappeared as the others gathered around Jet. Katara attempted to heal him, but realized that he had severe internal injuries. The Freedom Fighters told Aang and his friends to go, saying that he would be all right. As they left, Toph sadly said, "He's lying." Jet soon died of his wounds.[3]

Zuko frees Appa

Meanwhile, Zuko, wearing his Blue Spirit outfit, went to the base as well, in an attempt to steal Appa. Before he could finish, his uncle arrived, prompting Zuko to remove his mask as Iroh explained that he needed to start shaping his own destiny and choose his own path. After much consideration, Zuko conceded and freed Appa.[3]

Exposure

Reunion and new hope

Team Avatar was interrupted by Dai Li agents as they attempted to leave Lake Laogai. After holding them off for a while, the Dai Li were surprised by the newly freed Appa. Appa single-handedly defeated the Dai Li, even biting Long Feng's leg and throwing him into the lake. The group reunited with Appa.[3]

With Appa reunited with Team Avatar, Sokka suggested that, being on a "roll", they go ahead and storm into the palace to see the King. After some discussion, the group agreed.[4]

Assault on the Royal Palace

Ascending the palace stairs

Team Avatar made their way to the royal palace.

The team flew to the palace, but were met with opposition from the Royal Earthbender Guards. The guards were quickly defeated, being unable to defend against the combined bending power of Aang, Katara, Toph, and Appa. Storming through the palace, Sokka eventually discovered the "fancy door" that led to the throne room.

Breaking into the throne room, Aang and his friends were met by Dai Li agents and Long Feng. The King, beside Long Feng, expressed his outrage at the intrusion. The Dai Li locked Team Avatar's hands with rock gloves.

The king did, however, give Team Avatar a chance to speak. Aang attempted to prove to the King that the conspiracy and War were real and that Long Feng had evil intentions. Long Feng attempted to convince King Kuei otherwise and nearly succeeded, but made a major error of judgment when he said that he had not known sky bison still existed. This was immediately refuted by the bite marks on Long Feng's leg, which matched Appa's teeth. With this in mind, King Kuei decided to let Aang and his friends show him evidence.[4]

Arrest of Long Feng

Long Feng arrested

Long Feng was arrested after his conspiracy was revealed.

The first attempt Team Avatar used to convince the King was to have him see the Dai Li base at Lake Laogai. They discovered, however, that the Dai Li had destroyed the entrance beforehand, leaving only rubble there. The King almost left, but Katara realized there was another piece of evidence.

Team Avatar led the Earth King to the wall. The drill from the previous month's battle was still there, convincing the Earth King that the conspiracy and the Hundred Year War were real. Long Feng attempted to tell the King that it was a construction project and stated the Fire Nation insignia was there because it was imported. The King did not believe this, and Long Feng was arrested for crimes against the Earth Kingdom, thus ending the conspiracy, true power having been restored to the Earth King.[4]

Aftermath

Main article: Coup of Ba Sing Se
Long Feng submits

Long Feng was outwitted by Azula.

Despite unmasking Long Feng and outing the Dai Li as untrustworthy,[2] Team Avatar and King Kuei failed to crush the conspiracy entirely, as the Dai Li revealed to Long Feng that they remained loyal to him. Furthermore, the Earth King unwittingly allowed the disguised Princess Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee to enter the palace grounds as honored guests, presenting the Fire Nation an opportunity to exploit the circumstances to their advantage.[4] While in the city, Azula immediately began organizing a coup of the destabilized government. To this end, Mai and Ty Lee staged an act in which they revealed their Fire Nation nationality and their affiliation to Azula, along with plans to undermine the Earth King. As Azula predicted, she was taken to Long Feng to form a scheme. Orchestrating a convincing charade, the princess used her wiles to trick the former secretariat into perceiving her as helpless, deceiving him into the belief that she would be the ideal puppet to lead the Dai Li until his release.[5]

The Avatar and his friends soon arrived to rescue Katara, who had been taken prisoner after mistakenly telling Azula that Zuko and Iroh were in the city, believing the princess was Suki. Despite their arrival, Azula's plot went just as planned. She used her new allies to capture Zuko, though Iroh was able to escape. Azula threw Zuko in prison with Katara and her coup commenced. She arrested the entire Council of Five, along with Kuei, Sokka, and Toph, although the latter three managed to escape soon after. Long Feng, free from prison and seeing the princess' actions, ordered the Dai Li to arrest Azula. After the Dai Li refused to move, a smug Azula told a bewildered Long Feng that they did not know who to follow, as they were impressed by Azula's leadership. She told him that the one that was born royalty is the one that was born to rule. Long Feng, realizing his fatal mistake, had no choice but to submit to the princess.

Aang struck

Aang was struck down by a bolt of lightning from Azula.

After a furious battle in the Crystal Catacombs between Aang, Katara, Zuko, who had just defected to the Fire Nation, and Azula, and the intervention of the Dai Li, it became clear Azula would win if immediate action was not taken. Aang knew this and tried to enter the Avatar State, but was quickly shot down by a fatal lightning bolt generated by Azula. Iroh held Azula and Zuko off, letting Katara escape with a near-dead Aang. When they left, Iroh surrendered. Azula ordered his arrest, putting her in firm control of Ba Sing Se.[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (September 22, 2006). "City of Walls and Secrets". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (November 6, 2006). "Lake Laogai". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  6. Escape from the Spirit World: Avatar Kyoshi Online Comic Book.
  7. O'Bryan, John (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (April 28, 2006). "Avatar Day". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Serpent's Pass". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  10. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 13, 2006). "Appa's Lost Days". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.

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