|By Swampbender55||See other fanon and fan fiction works from Swampbender55.|
The Winter Coup was a failed coup attempt during the end of 163 AG by the Old Imperial Movement to dethrone the reigning Fire Lord and restore the Fire Nation to its militarist past. The incident was the first attack on Fire Nation soil since the Hundred Year War as well as the first case of civil unrest in the nation's recent history.
After the Hundred Year War, Fire Lord Zuko and his daughter made steps to downscale the military expenditure of the nation. Several of these actions were unpopular with many of the hardline military veteran commanders as well as many in the upper levels of the government. Dozens of factions resistant to the nation's new direction were established in the post-war years, with little success. This unrest would eventually culminate into conflict when several factions, led by then Fire Nation junior officer Hong Rong laid the ground work for a planned coup.
Hong Rong's father, a descendent of Hundred Year War Admiral Zhao, was a staunch advocate of military preparedness and had on several occasions in the past, voiced his disgust of what had become of the Nation since war's end. He instilled these views into his own son and after graduating at the top of his class in 156 AG, Hong Rong immediately entered into the military academy. There he would meet Saburo, an outspoken young man who shared similar views. Saburo himself held an ideal that the governmental structure of the Fire Nation needed to be changed and was often placed under arrest for demonstrations on the academy grounds.
In 158 the Fire Lord announced the plan to cut back on the size of the naval fleet. In response to this news Hong Rong and Saburo organized a group of cadets to oppose the action. The night before the Fire Lord was to give a speech in front of an audience in the Royal Plaza, Hong and his men stole four tundra tanks and, during the speech he an his men paraded through the streets up to the plaza, greeting the many excited civilians as they passed through. He and his fellow junior officers marched up the steps of the plaza as if it were all part of the show, and persuaded the crowd that, to best honor those who fought and died for the Fire Lords of the past was to keep their military strong. The Fire Lord herself reluctantly repealed the act to the cheers of the crowd. Hong Rong and many of his fellow cadets were imprisoned for several months but despite the setback, he was confident that they could make a difference in the future.
After being released and reprimanded in 159 the conspirators gained allies in members of the nation's governmental structure who contacted them several times during their incarceration, with Major Meng acting as their liaison. Through Saburo, the group came into contact with the Jade Viper, a lethal assassin guild and managed to acquire the employ of one of their members.
With a group of his most loyal men, Hong made steps to gain supporters for his coup. With some coercion he gained the loyalty of a percentage of the Royal Armored Division, including Colonel Lim, an up-and-coming officer in the tundra tank corps. During the summer of that year the group was approached by a Children of the Sun representative. The group had a history of resisting government reforms and was well known to be involved in terrorist activities. Hong and the major came to be at odds about the group: the former favoring the large force the group would bring and the latter being distrustful of their extremist background, uncertain of what they would do should the attempt succeed. Despite Meng's objections, Hong successfully integrated the group of some 1400 members into his plan.
By 163 the groundwork had been laid and the date set for the winter of that year. The junior officers selected the date to allow themselves time to allow every part of the plan to go off without a hitch. Also, due to the training and numerical superiority of the guard surrounding the palace Saburo suggested a surprise night attack, a time when firebending is at its weakest which would allow them to have the maximum impact. At the last phase of planning Hong Rong decided keeping the Fire Lord alive would be too dangerous and put the idea of killing her to a vote among the other officers, assassination coming up a 15:7 victory. It was then changed to also include the elimination of former Fire Lord Zuko as well as the heir to the throne, Iroh (United Forces general).
The attack would have four phases of attack: 1) Old Imperial and Sun forces, codename Angler would launch several bomb attacks around the city followed by a frontal assault, drawing many of the defending forces away from the palace, allowing the assassin easy access to the palace grounds 2) The conspirators within the armored division led by Saburo and Lim, codename Clamp would sabotage as many of the defense forces tanks as possible prior to the initial attack while keeping theirs fully functional. They would move along the regular forces during mobilization, moving into key areas before turning on Fire Nation forces, flanking the enemy force. 3) Led by Meng, codename Axe divided into two groups were tasked with eliminating Zuko aboard his private vessel out at sea. To accomplish this Meng had planted himself and several others aboard the ship months earlier. They would also be tasked with eliminating Iroh. 4) Led by Hong Rong, codename Stringer would "save" the Fire Lord from the assassin in the palace grounds and escort her to the emergency bunker where he would deliver the killing blow.
The plot unfolded early on a cold winter morning in the capital with small rioting groups setting several buildings in the city ablaze. Fire Nation forces responded and were ambushed en route. The forces, under the orders of commander Quan, the highest-ranked officer in the city at the time, assessed the situation and deployed the armored divisions to disperse the rioters. This tactic, playing right into the Old Imperial's hands, quickly backfires as traitors and sabotage quickly begin to take their toll on Quan's forces. "Clamp" force initiates it's part of the plan around 10am. With almost half the deployed tanks on their side, their initial attack disorientates and scatters the commander's forces, who either pull back or are surrounded and destroyed.
During the chaos Hong Rong and "Stinger" force make their way into the palace under the pretense of making a report to the Fire Lord and proceed unchallenged. Once inside he also leaks false reports about the attack by messenger hawk, further disorganizing the defenders. With the guards spread thin, the assassin makes his way in unnoticed and proceeds towards his target. Taking his quarry by surprise, he skillfully defeats the Fire Lord's guard before attacking her directly. Though his ambush and tools give him a momentary advantage, the attacker finds himself slowly losing ground. Moments from his defeat, Hong Rong and his unit arrive, allowing him to distract the Fire Lord and make his escape with Hong Rong and his men faking an attack on the assassin. With the assassin gone and the guards dead, the Major offers to escort the Fire Lord to her bunker, ensuring her that his men will "take care" of Iroh.
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