The Southern Raiders was a Fire Nation Navy organization designed with the goal of raiding the Southern Water Tribe and eliminating its population of waterbenders, thus ending a potential resistance to Fire Nation imperialism.
In 74 AG, Fire Lord Azulon's Southern Water Tribe raids were already a devastating success, having eliminated about 60% of its waterbending population that it had in 40 AG when the attacks began. Azulon decided to focus a portion of the navy solely on raiding the South Pole, and thus branched off a section of its manpower. Appropriately, he titled the organization the Southern Raiders, and took Yon Rha, once of the navy's leading commanders, making him head of the new organization.
Raids (74 - 94 AG) Edit
To finish off the Southern Tribe's waterbenders, a series of yearly raids were conducted from 74 to 89 AG. Admiral Yon Rha declared all the invasions to be successful, though they gradually became needless due to the decline of the waterbending population with every raid. Sources close to the navy and Fire Lord Azulon reported in 89 AG that the benders of the Southern Tribe were eliminated. Thus, the Southern Raiders fell almost entirely inactive, only conducting two raids over the next five years, neither of which returned any waterbenders.
The Southern Raiders were faced with being remerged into the navy, but Yon Rha's sources reported in 94 AG that another waterbender existed. Thus, one final raid took place. Yon Rha tracked down the source of the last waterbender, right to Chief Hakoda's family. He cornered the chief's wife, Kya, who revealed that she herself was the last waterbender. The commander killed her, however, he would turn out to be deceived, as it was Katara, Kya and Hakoda's daughter, who was the real last bender.
Inactivity and disbanding (94 - 100 AG) Edit
Nonetheless, the Southern Raiders' mission was done. Proud of the unit, Fire Lord Azulon continued to give them their separate status and a base on Whale Tail Island. Yon Rha retired with honor in 96 AG, turning the unit to Metang. Operations were limited to internal communication and investigations for the next four years as overseen by Fire Lord Ozai.
In 100 AG, Ozai was overthrown and the Hundred Year War ended. Ozai's son, Fire Lord Zuko, ordered the disbanding of the Southern Raiders, declaring them "a vicious organization which used war as a cover for genocide of a prosperous people. In this time of peace, such a group needs to be removed from our stage."
Reorganization into rebels (100 - 102 AG) Edit
While most of the group surrendered to the new direction of the Fire Nation and its military, a large number did not, including former commanders Yon Rha and Metang. After the former recovered from nearly being killed by Katara, he reorganized the remains of the Southern Raiders, including bringing on his brother, former admiral Zhei Li. The group met at isolated outposts outside the main Fire Nation archipelago and re-established themselves as a rebel group, all while operating quietly outside the monitoring of Zuko.
In 102 AG, the Southern Raiders decided to raid the Southern Water Tribe again, despite the facts that the tribe was stronger again, hosting a population of Northern Tribe benders who had restrengthened its military, and also was now home to Avatar Aang.
Attack on the Southern Water Tribe (102 AG) Edit
The invasion force left their isolated outpost on the 19th day of the second month at midnight, arriving at the tribe near sunrise, thus giving them a bending advantage. Despite this, they faced a powerful resistance. Mixed Southern-Northern forces combined with Avatar Aang, Sokka, and Katara, also joined by Kyoshi Warriors Suki and Ty Lee, who were both visiting the Southern Tribe, all combined to limit the Southern Raiders' advances. The invaders struggled and took many key losses of their own throughout the fight, forcing Yon Rha, Zhei Li, and Metang to intervene personally.
Yon Rha took on Aang and Katara. Despite dealing with two powerful benders, he was able to use his moves to defeat the Avatar. The other men went into the heat of the battle and defeated multiple forces, but despite their intervention, they could not allow the raiders increased progress as the warriors and waterbenders alike easily threw them and other forces back. Yon Rha nearly defeated Katara, which would have been a lethal blow to their opposition, but he was chi blocked at the last second by Ty Lee, causing his capture by Southern forces. Seeing this and the devastation they had taken, Zhei Li and Metang lost their will to fight and surrendered.