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|"We are part of a secret society, dedicated to restoring freedom to the world. We are the Red Lotus."|
|— Zaheer to Korra.|
The Red Lotus is a global militant anarchist organization, founded by Xai Bau as a splinter faction of the Order of the White Lotus after the Hundred Year War. Until 171 AG, the organization operated through sleeper cells, keeping their existence unknown to the world. The Red Lotus' agenda is to have the humans and spirits coexist again and usher in a new world order by dismantling the established nations and their leaders, which they originally planned to do by releasing Vaatu from his prison within the Tree of Time, and later by assassinating world leaders and ending the Avatar Cycle.
The only Red Lotus members who were publicly revealed as such were all powerful, influential individuals: the former Chief Unalaq, the truth-seer Aiwei, and a group of terrorists led by Zaheer. The latter had been incarcerated for thirteen years following a failed attempt to kidnap Avatar Korra. Zaheer managed to escape his imprisonment two weeks after Harmonic Convergence, using airbending abilities he had acquired due to the planet's energy shift and subsequently liberated his three associates. They managed to send the Earth Kingdom into chaos, but failed to murder Korra, resulting in the incarceration of Zaheer and the deaths of his three comrades. Nevertheless, many members are believed to be still at large.
After the Order of the White Lotus came out of hiding at the end of the Hundred Year War to serve the Avatar and the world's nations, Xai Bau became disgusted with the society's direction, deeming the White Lotus as having reduced itself to merely the "Avatar's bodyguards". In order to preserve the way how he believed the order should have been, he broke away and founded the Red Lotus to help liberate the world from the nations' influence. In order to achieve that agenda, they wanted to truly unify the world by reopening the spirit portals so humans and spirits would live together once more as one, as well as by doing away with the nation borders and their leaders.
Attempt to kidnap Korra and incarceration
When still a teenager, Zaheer met Chief Unalaq after they had both just joined the Red Lotus. They learned about Raava and Vaatu, the spirits of light and darkness, and how Avatar Wan had separated them, bringing imbalance to the world, which he, according to the Red Lotus, had only strengthened by dividing the physical and spiritual worlds. The Red Lotus subsequently devised a plan to kidnap the Avatar in order to reverse Wan's decision and teach her the ways of the Red Lotus. As such, Zaheer, Ghazan, P'Li, and Ming-Hua launched their plan to kidnap Korra a year after her status as the new Avatar was confirmed, but were unsuccessful due to the intervention of Tonraq, Tenzin, Chief Sokka, and Fire Lord Zuko. They were apprehended and detained in four maximum security prisons scattered around the globe. However, Unalaq had not come with his comrades that day and had thus managed to avoid being arrested. He washed his hands of the incident, and maintained his innocence by covering up his involvement in the kidnapping, but began pursuing his own personal ambition to become the Dark Avatar, something that the Red Lotus had not planned to do. To further defuse any suspicion against him, Unalaq collaborated with Zuko to build a prison in the western tundras of the North Pole to contain P'Li. As was the case with P'Li, the Order of the White Lotus imprisoned Ghazan and Ming-Hua in environments that would suppress their bending, while Zaheer was held in a remote mountaintop cell constructed entirely out of metal. The organization's lesser-known agents, such as Aiwei, remained at large and continued their operations in secret.
With the White Lotus successfully raising Korra, the Red Lotus shifted plans. Instead of trying to convince the Avatar to join them in her adulthood, they decided to capture and eventually kill her while she was in the Avatar State, putting an end to the reincarnation cycle and further establish anarchy.
Members of the White Lotus and Chief Lin Beifong of Republic City spent the next thirteen years interrogating each member of the Red Lotus in order to determine the gang's motives, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Shortly after the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Zaheer acquired airbending abilities, which he used to ambush the sentries outside of his cell when they came to bring him his daily ration of rice and escaped. He promptly traveled to Ghazan's prison and used his disguise as a White Lotus sentry to come close enough to board the wooden ship. While evading the attacks of the sentries, he managed to provide the earthbender three pieces of earth, which Ghazan promptly used to lavabend and break out of his wooden holding. After having done away with all the sentries, the two men greeted each other and Zaheer explained that his abilities were a result of Harmonic Convergence, which he saw as a sign that the group's path was righteous. The two promptly headed to free their third associate, Ming-Hua, who was detained in a volcanic facility devoid of moisture. After providing her with water to escape, the three resolved to free P'Li from the tundras of the Northern Water Tribe, prompting Lord Zuko to take action. He and Tonraq, now the Chief of the Southern Water Tribe, headed to the North Pole to increase the security of P'Li's prison.
Using a snowstorm conjured by Zaheer to act as cover, the three made their way toward P'Li's prison in the western ice tundra at the North Pole. While Zaheer faced off with Tonraq and Ghazan kept Zuko busy, Ming-Hua quickly defeated Chiefs Desna and Eska and drilled her way down to P'Li's underground cell, where she incapacitated the two guards on duty and freed the combustionbender. Resurfacing, the two were immediately attacked by Druk, Zuko's dragon, though P'Li managed to redirect the flames and retaliate with a combustion beam of her own. With the group complete, Ghazan and P'Li swiftly defeated Zuko and Tonraq before fleeing the scene.
Tracking the Avatar
As part of their plan to find the Avatar, the four criminals traveled to Republic City and sought refuge in an apartment complex overran by spirit vines. Zaheer shaved his head and infiltrated Air Temple Island under the guise of "Yorru" in an attempt to determine Korra's whereabouts, though his apparent knowledge of Air Nomad culture and desire to meet the Avatar aroused suspicion from Kya, who realized his true identity. After a short battle, Zaheer managed to defeat Kya and fled the island using a glider he had stolen from Tenzin's office.
After returning to base, P'Li chastised Zaheer for exposing himself on Air Temple Island and compromising the group's whereabouts, stating that the incident prompted the police to initiate a citywide manhunt for them. In light of the recent event, Ghazan inquired whether the group would continue with their plan to attack President Raiko, an operation which Zaheer decided to delay in order to focus on determining a method to leave the city. To that end, the group ambushed a truck driver, whom Ming-Hua threatened to smuggle them all out of the city undetected.
The truck driver attempted to drive out of the city via a bridge, though by the time they got there, the road had already been barricaded and every vehicle was being searched by the police. Anxious over the situation, the driver wavered while questioned by the officers, who forced him out of the vehicle as a result. The truck driver fled the scene and left the police to open the back of the truck, from where Zaheer launched a surprise airbending blast, knocking the officers back and giving Ming-Hua enough time to gain control of the wheel and begin driving out of the city. The four were pursued by five police cars, three of which were immediately blown up by P'Li's combustion beams. In order to halt the remaining officers, Ghazan turned a section of the road into lava, which allowed the four to successfully escape.
The group temporarily camped in a forest outside of the city, where Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li discussed how to find the Avatar while Zaheer meditated. The waterbender expressed her regret over not having taken a police officer to interrogate for Korra's whereabouts, but P'Li simply reassured the two that they would find the Avatar in due time. Shortly after, Zaheer opened his eyes and announced that Korra was in Zaofu with the Metal Clan.
Attempt to capture the Avatar
With the aid of Aiwei, the Red Lotus infiltrated Zaofu under the cover of darkness, managing to capture the Avatar by sedating her and Naga with shirshu-spit darts. Their escape did not go unnoticed, however, as Pabu alerted Mako and Bolin, who subsequently attacked the Red Lotus and drew attention to the group's presence. The foursome was soon surrounded by members of the Metal Clan, who used their metalbending to box them in between metal plates. However, Ghazan used his own skill to free themselves by creating a lava moat, forcing a stalemate between the two groups. Eventually, Bolin managed to block P'Li's chi by striking her third eye with a pebble, while Lin and Suyin Beifong dropped in from above on cables and rescued Korra. Zaheer attempted to recapture the Avatar, but was thwarted by Suyin, who pierced the wing of his glider with metal shards, forcing him to make a crash landing near the rest of his team. Realizing their attempt to kidnap Korra had failed, Zaheer created an air dome to cover their escape.
Pursuit of Korra
The Red Lotus later made camp in a cave not too far from the Misty Palms Oasis and contacted Aiwei to meet Zaheer at Xai Bau's Grove at sundown. In the Spirit World, Zaheer confronted Aiwei over what had happened at Zaofu, blaming the truth seer for the debacle and accused him of having left loose ends. Although Aiwei assured the airbender that there was no evidence left linking back to the Red Lotus, Zaheer deemed Aiwei himself to be a liability and subsequently threw his soul into the Fog of Lost Souls. Afterward, he returned to Xai Bau's Grove to have a conversation with Korra, who had followed Aiwei there. While secretly alerting his friends back in the physical world that Korra was at an inn in the Misty Palms Oasis, he distracted her by telling her about the origins of the Red Lotus and how Unalaq had engineered their first attempt to kidnap her.
While P'Li remained behind to guard Zaheer's body, Ming-Hua and Ghazan traveled to the village to retrieve Korra. Before they could locate the room she was in, Asami, carrying Korra while riding Naga, made a break for it, while Mako and Bolin instigated a fight with Ming-Hua and Ghazan. Eventually Ming-Hua managed to gain the upper hand against Mako, throwing him into a door and rendering him unconscious. As Bolin tried to avoid the burning lava bent by Ghazan by jumping into the inn's pool, Ming-Hua waterbent a sphere of water around him, effectively trapping him. While holding the two brothers aloft, she told Ghazan to pursue Korra. Before he could get to her, however, Earth Queen Hou-Ting's troops captured Asami and Korra to bring them back to Ba Sing Se. With Mako and Bolin in tow, the two returned to P'Li and Zaheer. The latter promptly informed them to load the brothers onto the truck and prepare to head to the Earth Kingdom capital.
Taking down the Earth Queen
While en route to Ba Sing Se, Ghazan and Ming-Hua guarded the bound up brothers in the back of the truck while Zaheer drove with P'Li sitting next to him. With nothing else to do, the four in the back engaged in a conversation. Although Ming-Hua and Ghazan deflected Mako's inquiries about their plans, they humored Bolin by answering his questions in regards to their time in prison. The questionnaire was cut short, however, as Zaheer ordered Ghazan to gag the brothers depending their arrival at the Earth Kingdom capital.
Inside the palace, the four gained an audience with Earth Queen Hou-Ting by baiting her with information about "her" airbenders. Zaheer managed to strike a deal with the queen: information about the airbenders in return for the Avatar, as the Avatar's imprisonment in the Earth Kingdom would lead to a world war. The Red Lotus was escorted to await Korra's arrival in the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace's antechamber.
Noticing a Dai Li agent swiftly pass by their chamber, Zaheer followed him, sneaking into the throne room, where he overheard that the Queen's ship with Korra aboard had crashed in the Si Wong Desert. Deciding to take matters into their own hands, the team barged into the throne room, resulting in a fight with the Dai Li. After quickly defeating the earthbenders, Zaheer confronted and suffocated the Queen with his airbending.
While Ghazan was sent toward the city's walls, the other three made their way to the capital's communications room in order for Zaheer to make a citywide announcement of the fall of Hou-Ting's regime. As the Red Lotus leader stated that he delivered Ba Sing Se back into the hands of the people, Ghazan used his lavabending to bring down the internal walls separating the three rings, bringing forth a chaotic, plundering horde.
Afterward, Zaheer went to the palace's prison, where he released all inmates. Before freeing Mako and Bolin, he gave them a message to be delivered to Korra and promptly took an airship toward the Northern Air Temple.
Ambush on the Northern Air Temple
Arriving at the Northern Air Temple, Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and Zaheer rounded up all the inhabitants, while P'Li stayed aboard the airship to control the situation from above. They intended to use the Air Nation as leverage to get to Korra, though when Tenzin figured that out, the airbending master promptly attacked them, giving the airbenders a chance to escape. While P'Li focused on the escapees, managing to shoot Kai out of the sky and corner the others at the flying bison stables, Zaheer faced off against Tenzin, while Ming-Hua took on Kya, leaving Ghazan to battle Bumi. Although Kya and Bumi each managed to get in some hits in, they eventually had to acknowledge the superiority of their opponents when they teamed up against them and managed to knock them off the balcony. Although Bumi managed to save themselves from plunging to death, they became the perfect target for P'Li's combustion attack. Her attack missed, however, as Kya convinced her brother to let them fall, effectively evading the blast at the last minute.
Meanwhile, Zaheer had trouble keeping up with the airbending master, who managed to evade all his counter blows and land many of his own. However, the tables turned when P'Li landed an attack, bring Tenzin down within striking range of Ming-Hua and Ghazan. Although it was now four against one, Tenzin refused to give up, stating he would never let the Red Lotus get to the Avatar as long as he was breathing, prompting the three members on the ground to relentlessly barrage him with their respective elements.
Korra contacted Zaheer over the radio from the Metal Clan's airship explaining that she would surrender herself so long as Zaheer freed the airbenders. Zaheer instructed Korra to meet him on top of Laghima's Peak. Korra used her glider to meet Zaheer while Lin, Suyin, the Metal Clan guards and Tonraq scaled the side of the mountain ready to ambush Zaheer. Meanwhile, Bolin, Asami, and Mako were working to rescue the airbenders while Zaheer was distracted. However, Zaheer had deceived Korra yet again; he had already moved all the airbenders save for Tenzin to a mountainside hideout while Ming-Hua used waterbending to make water dummies in airbender robes. When the deception was revealed, Ghazan and Ming-Hua left Mako, Bolin, Asami and Tenzin to die as lava slowly destroyed the Northern Air Temple.
Meanwhile, Korra, while chained with platinum cuffs, resisted Zaheer as the Metal Clan engaged P'Li. Tonraq assisted his daughter too but was thrown from a cliff by Zaheer. Lin subsequently acted as a distraction for P'Li as Suyin metalbent her chest plate around P'Li's head before she could fire, confining the explosion to her head and killing her. However, the death of P'Li allowed Zaheer to unlock the unique airbending ability to fly, by letting go of his earthly tether, and escape the battle carrying an unconscious Korra.
The Red Lotus took the Avatar to their mountainside hideout, where they planned to use mercury to poison Korra and force her into the Avatar State, after which they would kill her and end the reincarnation cycle of the Avatar forever. But when Korra entered the Avatar State, she was able to break free of her chains and engage Zaheer in an aerial battle. Meanwhile, Team Avatar had discovered the hideout with the help of Kai, and freed the captured airbenders before engaging the remaining members of The Red Lotus. Mako and Bolin fought Ming-Hua and Ghazan respectively, and after a short battle, Mako managed to electrocute Ming-Hua with lightning before going back to help his brother overwhelm Ghazan. Refusing to be taken back to prison, the lavabender bent the cave down on himself in an effort to kill Mako and Bolin, but both brothers were able to escape.
Meanwhile, Korra and Zaheer battled in the sky above the Air Nomad caves, where the duel went in Zaheer's favor due to Korra's inhibited abilities. After suffering several bad falls, as well as the continued effects of the poison, Korra collapsed on a nearby plateau which allowed Zaheer to apply the asphyxiation technique he had previously used to kill the Earth Queen. However, the freed airbenders, under Jinora's direction, created a tornado under Zaheer and Korra, which allowed Korra to force Zaheer toward the earth and defeat him. The Beifong sisters promptly restrained Zaheer in an earth shell. As it seemed like Korra had succumbed to the poison, Jinora revealed that the poison was metallic in nature, and thus, prompted Suyin to bend the poison out of Korra's body, saving her.
Despite the deaths of P'Li, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan, as well as Zaheer's incarceration, the remaining Red Lotus leaders and sentries had returned into hiding and still remain at large with no way of knowing how many are out there. In addition, the chaos Zaheer brought to the Earth Kingdom after the Earth Queen's death still prevailed. As a result of their actions, President Raiko declared the Red Lotus a terrorist organization in the eyes of the United Republic of Nations.
- Aiwei (trapped in the Fog of Lost Souls)
- Ghazan (deceased)
- Ming-Hua (deceased)
- P'Li (deceased)
- Unalaq (betrayed group in 158 AG; deceased)
- Xai Bau (founder)
- Zaheer (leader; incarcerated)
- Red Lotus sentries
- The three members that Zaheer rescued died in reverse order from which he freed them from their prisons, dying, from first to last: P'Li, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan.
- Before the deaths of P'Li, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua, the Red Lotus was the second group since the original Team Avatar to have a bending master from all four bending disciplines.
- All known members of the Red Lotus, with the exception of Xai Bau and Ming-Hua, have demonstrated the ability to use at least one specialized bending technique within their respective elements.
- Aiwei was capable of metalbending and proficient in the use of seismic sense.
- Ghazan was a lavabender.
- P'Li was a combustionbender.
- Unalaq invented spiritbending, a variation of healing which allows a waterbender to alter spiritual energy.
- Zaheer is capable of unassisted flight.
- Ming-Hua, despite showing no specialized bending techniques, was originally conceptualized as a bloodbender, but the creators decided against featuring another bloodbending villain after Amon.
- Both the Red and the White Lotus have attacked the city of Ba Sing Se. While the White Lotus did so to liberate the Earth Kingdom capital from the Fire Nation to help restore balance between the four nations, the Red Lotus infiltrated the city to kill the Earth Queen and topple the governments to throw the world in disarray.