- This article is about the event. For the episode, see "The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion".
|"When this is finished, the Avatar will have defeated the Fire Lord. We will have control of the Fire Nation capital, and this war will be over!"|
|— Hakoda to the invasion force.|
The invasion of the Fire Nation was a major battle of the Hundred Year War that took place in the Fire Nation Capital. The battle was fought during a solar eclipse, an event where the sun was completely blocked out by the moon. The eclipse cut all firebenders off from their source of power, the sun, leaving them unable to bend for the eclipse's eight-minute duration. Hakoda, with his son Sokka, led a small force drawn from the Southern Water Tribe, the Foggy Swamp Tribe, and the Earth Kingdom in an invasion of the Fire Nation, while Avatar Aang sought to find Fire Lord Ozai in order to defeat him while the eclipse rendered him powerless. The plan ultimately failed, with almost all invading troops captured; only the members of Team Avatar and a few others were able to escape on Appa. Despite the force's defeat, the attempted invasion marked the first known attempt at a direct assault on the Fire Nation in the history of the Hundred Year War, as well the first known multinational attack on the Fire Nation.
- See also: Day of Black Sun
In spring of 100 AG, Team Avatar traveled to Wan Shi Tong's Library in order to find information about the Fire Nation, and possibly a way to end the War. It was there where Sokka discovered a piece of scorched parchment labeled "The Darkest Day in Fire Nation History". Curious, Sokka wanted to know what happened on the Darkest Day. Fortunately for him, he was led to a celestial calendar by one of Wan Shi Tong's animal servants. This calendar had the ability to place accurate models of the sun and the moon's position in relation to the Earth. By entering the date found on the parchment, Sokka was able to find that on the Darkest Day, a solar eclipse had occurred, causing firebenders to lose their bending ability, leaving them helpless. Sokka and Aang also found that the date of the next eclipse was only months away, and before Sozin's Comet was due to arrive.
Team Avatar took this information to the Earth King to gain his approval of an invasion on that day. However, Princess Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee arrived at the city disguised as Kyoshi Warriors. The Earth King, believing the trio to be allies, told them the details of the invasion. Not long after, Azula took control of the Dai Li agents and took over the great Earth Kingdom Capital of Ba Sing Se, effectively conquering the Earth Kingdom. In his attempt to save the great city, Aang was critically injured by Azula and his ability to enter the Avatar State disabled. Team Avatar regrouped days later along with Hakoda and the rest of the Southern Water Tribe at Chameleon Bay, where they re-evaluated their battle strategy for the invasion.
Their new plan for the invasion during the eclipse had to be altered slightly, because they could not launch a major attack on the Fire Nation without the massive Earth Kingdom armies. The new plan called for a ragtag team of Team Avatar's allies from around the Earth Kingdom to help in their cause. They also commissioned the mechanist, a friend of Sokka, to design and produce a wide variety of new weapons that could be used during the course of the invasion. Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph hid out within the Fire Nation and waited until the day of the eclipse.
After several weeks of hiding, Team Avatar arrived at a small, uninhabited island within the Fire Nation known as the Black Cliffs, which was selected as the launching point for the invasion force due to its lack of importance to the Fire Nation. Its characteristic black cliffs surrounded a large harbor area that was perfect for the invasion fleet's assembly. The gang camped out on the island for four days before the invaders were due to arrive.
The invading force arrived after bypassing the Fire Nation blockade by means of a screen of steam created through waterbending, allowing the Water Tribe ships to slip in undetected. Among the invaders were all remaining Southern Water Tribe warriors, and a large band of Foggy Swamp Tribe tribesmen. However, the bulk of the forces was made of Earth Kingdom combat units: Regular soldiers from General Fong's fortress, earthbender rebels from the western coast, and several volunteers, including former Freedom Fighters and even professional earthbending wrestlers. Hakoda led the force toward the island where he and the soldiers prepared for the battle. With them, they brought many large waterbending-powered submarines to carry the invaders as well as earthbending-powered tanks, a newly commissioned tread vehicle designed to rival its fearsome Fire Nation equivalent. The mechanist gave Aang a replacement glider and a full supply of eclipse glasses for the soldiers. They had various other weapons to support their needs.
Hakoda briefed the team on the invasion plan after Sokka humorously botched his own speech. The plan was for the invaders to first bypass the Great Gates of Azulon, and sail onward until they could storm the beaches of the Fire Nation Capital. There, they would force their way through the Royal Plaza into the central city toward the palace in the hour prior to the actual eclipse. In the eight minutes that the eclipse was present, Avatar Aang would face Fire Lord Ozai while he was powerless. It was hoped that by doing this and by invading the Fire Nation, the Fire Nation armies across the globe would lose the will to fight, effectively ending the Hundred Year War. The invaders prepared their weapons and vessels and by noon, were en route to the Fire Nation.
The first obstacle the invasion force needed to overcome was the Great Gates of Azulon, a massive security structure that could block any enemy ship from entering the Capital using a giant burning net. Waterbenders created a fog to cover the ships, however, the gates activated anyway and jet skis were dispatched to apprehend the invasion force. However the invasion team was faster and they evacuated the boats via submarines before the Fire Nation soldiers were able to arrest anybody. The submarines were able to maneuver under the gates completely undetected. Upon entering the Fire Nation's inner sea, the invasion force carried onward deep into the Capital Island largely unopposed. Aang departed from the fleet in order to hunt down the Fire Lord ahead of time.
Upon arriving at the Capital, the invaders blasted through the harbor gates and dodged shots launched from shoreline ballistae that were intended to drag in the submarines for capture. The invaders stormed the coastline and charged at the Fire Nation forces, with the earthbenders piloting five earthbending-powered tanks and several supply trucks as support. Several Foggy Swamp Tribesmen, among them Due, Huu, and Tho, were assigned to defend the submarines in case the group was forced to retreat. The Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom warriors, led by Chief Hakoda and Bato, focused on destroying the many Fire Nation battlements defending the Royal Plaza while the tanks focused on the tundra tanks swarming onto their position. These tanks were not much of a match against the advanced earthbending-powered tanks, which literally crushed these vehicles. The supply trucks carried rocks and water for the warriors to use in their fight against the Fire Nation.
Sokka, Toph, Katara, and Appa all aided in the battle, disabling several battlements and clearing a route for the invaders. Hakoda was severely injured in a botched attack on one of the battlements, so he passed his command on to Sokka while Katara healed his wounds. Sokka proved an effective leader and within a short amount of time, conquered the Royal Plaza and seized control of the central tower separating the harbor from the city. The invaders subsequently blasted through the walls by ramming Earth Kingdom trucks loaded with bombs into the walls. With the tower secure, the invaders halted their offensive to regroup, using their tanks as shields from fire bombs. Becoming desperate, the Fire Nation sent in more tanks to hold off the attackers.
Aang arrived at the Capital City to find that it was completely deserted. Confused, he continued toward the Royal Palace. Upon arrival, he forced his way into the Fire Lord's throne room and announced that he had returned. The throne room was empty, infuriating Aang. He returned to his friends to inform them of his discovery, and Sokka correctly deduced that the Fire Nation anticipated the attack. Katara suggested that the group retreat before the Fire Nation had the chance to trap the entire force, but the rest of the team was determined to finish the fight and find the Fire Lord. With only ten minutes before the onset of the eclipse, Sokka, Toph, Appa, and Aang went back to the city to find the Fire Lord. Bato took command of the invasion while Katara continued to heal her father. Sokka theorized that the Fire Lord may have been hiding in a secret bunker within the city, and with Toph's enhanced senses, easily located several underground bunkers deep within the dormant volcano the city rested within. The trio journeyed through the caverns while the invaders fought their way through the besieged city.
The invaders forced their way up the main route to Royal Caldera City, and with the eclipse fast approaching, the firebenders were in full retreat. The invaders quickly donned their eclipse glasses. Meanwhile, the Avatar and his friends encountered War Minister Qin in the caverns, and totally defenseless, he told them of the Fire Lord's whereabouts. Aang finally found the bunker just as the eclipse commenced, rendering the entire firebending army powerless. He found that the bunker was in fact being occupied by Princess Azula, who figured that Aang had survived her attack. She revealed that she knew of the attack for months, thanks to her actions in Ba Sing Se. She refused to reveal her father's location, and instead sent a pair of Dai Li agents to attack the group. The group fought bravely and eventually defeated both agents, but found it impossible to pin down Azula, who dodged their attacks with her amazing acrobatic skills. She subsequently fled the scene and into the caverns where Sokka caught on to her scheme. The whole battle was just a diversion so that the group would be unable to fight the Fire Lord during the eclipse. To further this effort, Azula taunted the group by various means.
Although Aang and Toph were more than ready to take down Azula, Sokka insisted that they search for the Fire Lord instead, figuring all the princess was doing was wasting the eclipse time. However, Azula distracted him by revealing that she knew his name and that her "favorite prisoner" mentioned him all the time. She said that Suki was so sure that Sokka would rescue her, but gave up on him when he never came. Sokka charged at Azula in a fit of emotional rage. Azula tried to stab him with a knife, but was pinned to the wall by Toph. Sokka subsequently demanded to know Suki's whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the warriors finally secured the Royal Palace, capturing many soldiers and setting up defenses around the palace. By this time, however, Azula succeeded in burning the team's remaining time. The firebenders regained their bending and prepared for a counterattack. Azula broke free from her restraints and fled the scene only to leave Sokka feeling guilty over his failure to recognize the princess' ruse. Toph and Aang insisted that it was not his fault, and the latter decided to fight the Fire Lord anyway. Sokka and Toph rejected this proposal, saying they never had the element of surprise. They subsequently returned to the invasion force with no success.
While Azula kept Team Avatar busy, Zuko confronted Ozai in his bunker and told the truth about the events that transpired in Ba Sing Se and that the Avatar was still alive. Unsheathing his dual broadswords, he forced Ozai to listen to him as he explained that he was done trying to earn his love and that he learned the world hated the Fire Nation. Although Ozai laughed at the suggestion to replace the war with an era of peace and kindness, Zuko was undeterred and continued to voice his intentions to rescue Iroh, beg his forgiveness, and join the Avatar in his quest to defeat Ozai. Declaring his son a traitor, Ozai dared him to end the war right there as he was powerless due to the solar eclipse, though Zuko refrained, stating it was the Avatar's destiny to stop Ozai, and started to walk away. Before he could leave, however, Ozai enticed him to stay by relaying that Ursa was not dead, merely banished for treason. Having distracted Zuko with the fate of his mother until the eclipse passed, Ozai attempted to kill him with lightning, though Zuko redirected it and escaped.
Upon realizing that the attack was a failure, the invaders were faced by a fleet of Fire Nation war balloons, which the mechanist recognized as his own invention. They quickly saw something even more horrifying: an armada of Fire Nation airships. Sokka informed the group of their failure and ordered a retreat. The invaders rushed back to the coastline while Katara and Aang fought off the airships. While they managed to destroy some war balloons, the airships were way too powerful and the two retreated. The airships bombarded the invaders, but they all survived thanks to Toph's earthen shields. However, the airships were racing toward the coastline, and Aang realized that they were going to destroy the submarines. Realizing that there was no hope of escape, Hakoda insisted that Aang, his friends, and all younger members of the invasion flee the country at once as it was the only way to keep hope alive. Everybody else would surrender which would guarantee their survival.
The Foggy Swamp Tribesmen fought off the airships bravely, but were eventually overwhelmed by the sheer number of bombs and the subs were all destroyed. Defeated, Team Avatar fled the scene, but not without promising their allies that they would return. Azula, who was on an airship, chose not to pursue, knowing that they would be back. The group fled to the Western Air Temple without realizing that they were being tracked by an old foe: Prince Zuko.
The attack led to the imprisonment of many of the Avatar's allies and meant that the Hundred Year War would drag on for several more weeks. The failure of the invasion of the Fire Nation meant that Aang would have to fight the Fire Lord while he still retained his amazing firebending prowess, rather than facing him when he was totally defenseless.
However, the attack was not a total failure. The battle was one of the few known attacks on the Fire Nation that even came close to achieving victory and this gave the invaders some hope for the outcome of the War. More importantly, Aang's previous enemy, Prince Zuko, became disillusioned about the Fire Nation's campaign of terror against the globe and sought to join the Avatar's gang so that he could teach Aang firebending and redeem himself. He trailed the group to the Western Air Temple to fulfill this destiny.
Finally, while the attack failed in the Fire Nation, there was a success in the Earth Kingdom. King Bumi, the imprisoned king of the conquered city of Omashu, saw the eclipse as "the right time to strike" and he would finally free his beloved city. Bumi proceeded to attack the helpless firebenders with his earthbending. The attack was a resounding success as Bumi single-handedly liberated the city, initiating the eventual liberation of the entire Earth Kingdom.