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|By Alexander of Volzhsky||Part of the Alexander of Volzhsky Universe continuity.|
|"These squabbling warlords have done more damage to the Fire Nation than what was done during the Hundred Year War."|
|— Fire Lord Zuko|
The Fire Nation Civil War was an internal conflict taking place in the Fire Nation, with a spillover into the Earth Kingdom. After the defeat of Phoenix King Ozai at the Battle of Wulong Forest, ending the Hundred Year War, many government officials and military officers of the Fire Nation refused to accept Zuko as the new Fire Lord. Many of those officers became renegades, refusing to follow orders from Zuko. Taking the forces under their command, they became warlords. The bureaucracy of the Fire Nation also fell apart, as many officials left the government, either to join warlords, go into exile to avoid punishment for crimes committed in service of Ozai, or to become criminals. Much of the military forces in the Earth Kingdom refused to withdraw, and their officers became warlords as well. As a result, the Earth Kingdom government (under the restored Earth King Kuei) decided to intervene, and aid the new government of Fire Lord Zuko. The Northern Water Tribe also provided support, fearing a restart of the Hundred Year War if Zuko was overthrown.
It was estimated that about 55% of the Fire Nation armed forces remained loyal to the new monarch, while the rest either joined warlord factions or deserted. The most notable of the warlords included High General Bujing, an opportunistic warlord wanting more power, who carved out a vast territory in the western Earth Kingdom and created his own empire, and Grand Admiral Akiyama, a brilliant tactician who went on to amass much of the Fire Navy to carry out attacks against both the regime of Zuko and the Earth Kingdom. Zuko introduced vast reforms into the government of the Fire Nation, and tried to reunify the military, making fighting the warlords difficult. An influx of new advisors and bureaucrats in the government caused instability and more corruption. Avatar Aang got involved, and as did the Order of the White Lotus. The allied intervention was greatly beneficial militarily for Zuko's regime, but it gave propaganda to use for the Ozai loyalists, allowing them to claim that they were defending the Fire Nation from an invasion.
When the conflict first began, the loyalists only had several islands of the Fire Nation archipelago under their control, mostly around the capital city island. The outermost islands were largely in anarchy or under warlord control. The Fire Nation military loyal to the new Fire Lord began fighting the Ozai nationalists on Zuko's orders. The disorganization caused many problems for the loyalists, making contact between the capital and many loyalist military units impossible. But with the allied intervention, the warlords were pushed to the edges of the Fire Nation archipelago, before being defeated. In the Earth Kingdom, the war lasted much longer, but ultimately, the renegades there were defeated as well. Afterwards, the Fire Nation took many decades to recover from both the effects of the Civil War and the preceding conflict. The reign of Fire Lord Zuko was considered to be one of the most unpopular in the country's history, but it accomplished a lot in progressing the Fire Nation forward.
In the summer of 100 AG, the self-proclaimed Phoenix King Ozai and his airship fleet were defeated by Avatar Aang at Wulong Forest, during their attempt to burn down the Earth Kingdom. At the same time, the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se, was liberated by the Order of the White Lotus after falling to the a coup earlier. Bumi, the King of Omashu, a major city in the southern Earth Kingdom, single-handily freed his town from the Fire Nation occupiers. Meanwhile, Zuko and Katara defeated recently-coronated Fire Lord Azula in a duel at the Fire Nation capital. With the capture of its top leaders, and the loss of the most important cities in the Earth Kingdom, as well as the rebellions against their occupation across the Kingdom, the Fire Nation was forced to capitulate. The Hundred Year War was officially over. Team Avatar celebrated the victory at the Jasmine Dragon, the tea shop owned by Iroh, before splitting up to take up the difficult task of establishing peace and rebuilding.
After Zuko was coronated in the Fire Nation, he began the task of rebuilding the Fire Nation. His advisors were a mixture of former Ozai government members and new ones appointed by the new Fire Lord. They informed the young ruler of the dire situation: there was complete disorganization and chaos within the Fire Nation. Many of the military officers were loyal to Ozai and declared their independence from Zuko's government. Others joined them, seeing no orders come from the capital. Many regional governors of the outlying islands refuse to recognize Zuko as the Fire Lord and continued the war, aiding the new renegade warlords. Ozai and Azula were born locked up near the Fire Nation Royal Palace, under heavy guard by Kyoshi Warriors (since Zuko did not fully trust his Royal Procession, many of whom went missing). Zuko held a war meeting with his loyalist military commanders, who informed him that a little more than half of the military was loyal to him. As reports came in from the Earth Kingdom government that many Fire Nation units were continuing to fight, Zuko knew conflict was not yet over.
Fire Nation falling apart
In the Earth Kingdom, many of the military units refused to stop fighting and continued the war. Among them was the Second Area Army of High General Bujing, who saw it as a chance to gain more power. Having a hatred for Zuko, he refused to recognize his leadership, and began to invade Earth Kingdom villages in the western part of the continent. Many of his soldiers were Ozai loyalists, and fully supported Bujing. However, the general was not doing it out of loyalty to Ozai, but due to his hunger for power and hatred for Zuko. As the Zuko loyalist military units around his territory were not receiving any orders from the capital, many decided to instead join Bujing's movement. His territory expanded, and soon the warlord controlled much of the western coastline, and even took control of Taku. He made it the capital of his new empire. Zuko and Earth King Kuei were both very concerned, and Kuei demanded that Zuko stop him. He told the King that he had no control over the warlord's actions, and decided to go on an offensive against him. But by the time Zuko's general staff sent orders to their forces in the Earth Kingdom, there were not enough left to attempt an offensive against Bujing.
Meanwhile, the governor of Ember Island, a man appointed by Ozai named Onaji, declared independence from the Fire Nation government, and with the military units stationed there, founded a faction called "Crimson Command". The new faction swore allegiance to "Phoenix King Ozai", and consisted of an army and domestic forces division, as well as a small flotilla. Zuko, already busy dealing with the anarchy in outlying islands and trying to reform the military, was unable to respond right away. At the same time, another warlord rose to power who would play a major role in the conflict in the future: Akiyama. The Grand Admirals were ten officers elevated to the rank by Fire Lord Ozai shortly after his ascension to the throne. Each officer was an excellent commander, but also had another set of skills that set them apart from others. For these reasons, the Grand Admirals essentially became the leaders of the Fire Nation military. Akiyama was known to be a brilliant tactician and strategist, which was why he was appointed to the rank. Using his flagship, an Empire-class battleship, he began to rally his followers for a campaign.
About a month into Zuko's reign, and open conflict began across the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom between different factions.
|"To win this war, I will need your support."|
|— Zuko to assembled allies|
At the new Fire Lord's request, Avatar Aang and Grand Lotus Iroh decided to intervene in the conflict. The Order of the White Lotus and Team Avatar arrived at the Fire Nation capital, where they met with Zuko and discussed the situation. To help, Lotus member Jeong Jeong received his admiral's commission in the Fire Navy again, in order to help fight against the warlords. The ambassadors of the Earth Kingdom and Northern Water Tribes in the capital city also promised aid from their nations. The Kyoshi Warriors arrived in full force several days later, to help with security, including the guarding of Ozai and Azula. The loyalist General Mak was made the chief of army staff, and Admiral Jeong Jeong became the chief of naval staff. The reformed military began operations against warlords in the Fire Nation, while Zuko ordered all loyalist units in the Earth Kingdom to retreat to the homeland. Jeong Jeong agreed to commit a number of cruisers to transport troops back home from the Earth Kingdom. Meanwhile, Team Avatar decided to take down the major warlords individually.
Forces under General Mak and Admiral Jeong Jeong defeated many of the upstarts in the Fire Nation archipelago, culminating with the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom.against Governor Onaji's troops. The man himself committed suicide rather than be captured. Many warlords did the same. With the unrest in the Fire Nation dying down and being secured, the loyalist military turned to the
Hunt for Bujing
|"Bujing and his forces have taken over several provinces in the western Earth Kingdom, and we are worried that he may try to even take Omashu. We recommend that you prepare your army."|
|— General Fong to King Bumi|
By the time the unrest in the Fire Nation was ended, High General Bujing conquered a large empire in the western provinces of the Earth Kingdom. His forces included mostly ground troops, but also some naval units. Bujing claimed to be fighting to restore Ozai's vision for the world, and to that end, he had his troops burn entire villages to the ground. However, he was not actually doing it for that reason, Bujing was simply a greedy and power hungry individual wanting more power and control. Though Bujing was in possession of the Fire Nation colonies on the coast, such as Yu Dao, he instead made his capital the city of Taku, a city that was an important center of commerce before being destroyed during the war. Taku was vastly expanded, and became more of a fortress than a city. From there, Bujing oversaw the expansion and developments of his empire, though he often led his army personally on the battlefield. With the Earth Kingdom Army too disorganized and exhausted to resist, and with the loyalist units retreating to the Fire Nation, he was virtually unopposed for the first several months of the civil war.
However, Avatar Aang and the Earth Kingdom Council of Five made a plan to take down the warlord: the Earth Kingdom Army outnumbered his forces, and would try to force them down into decisive battles, where they would destroy his forces. Meanwhile, the Avatar and his comrades would try to hunt down Bujing and kill him.
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