The 7th Fleet, also known as the Saracens, are a celebrated branch of the Imperial Navy. Nicknamed for their fiery and ambitious leader, Admiral Vanazir Saracen, it achieved most fame for its pacification actions in the Bleak Lands late in YC109 and early YC 110. Following the public disgrace of Admiral Saracen, the fleet was reassigned to Aridia where it continues to patrol.
The 7th Fleet has a history that stretches back to the earliest days of the Reclaiming on Athra, when the Imperial Navy was an archaic ocean-faring force. It had several acclaimed units who served with distinction in the Udorian conquest. They were renowned for fighting on the frontier and securing the rapidly shifting Imperial borders.
Following the conquest of Amarr Prime, the fleet continued mainly as a peace keeping unit, patrolling trade lanes and rooting out criminals, pirates, and heretics. Once the Empire expanded its Reclaiming into space, the 7th Fleet followed suit, transforming from a planetary force into an interstellar one and serving mainly as a complimentary force in the Reclaiming of the Ealur and the Ni-Kunni. They were considered highly effective in snuffing out piracy and crime within its patrol routes, and following the assassination of Emperor Zaragram II, they were instrumental in maintaining the peace, quickly dispersing rioters and malcontents within their domain.
The 7th Fleet was on the forefront of the Minmatar conquest. It scored numerous victories against the minimal Minmatar resistance, while effectively reducing loss of life of potential slave populations. During the Minmatar Rebellion, they served with distinction, suffering fewer casualties than average and assisting heavily with the evacuation of Amarr assets from Republic space.
It only served minimally in the Sansha War, sending several minor detachments for cleanup duty at the end of the war. During this time, they were primarily concerned with protecting the Empire's borders from smugglers, pirates, and terrorists.
The Bleak Lands
By late YC109, the Bleak Lands region had becoming increasingly unstable, with mysterious attacks destroying Imperial assets and driving local Holders into a frenzy. In response, the 7th Fleet rapidly transferred their might to the region. The transfer was unexpected, occurring almost overnight, with little warning from any Imperial authorities.
Basing out of Sahtogas, the fleet initially skirmished with Blood Raiders, drawing support from local Holders. Admiral Saracen stated a goal of fortifying the Bleak Lands so that no system was more than three jumps from a heavily fortified installation. In order to fund the fortifications, Saracen undertook the unusual step of enforcing a tithe on local Holders, a power usually reserved for planetary and regional Viceroys. This move drew some criticism from Holders, but was approved of by most residents of the region.
The fortification was going well, when investigations revealed that the mysterious attacks had not been perpetrated by Blood Raiders as initially assumed. Following a surprise attack on the 7th Fleet during a scheduled communications downtime, it was discovered that the attacks had been carried out by the Defiants terrorist organization, a rogue detachment of the Republic Fleet.
Early conflict between the 7th Fleet and Defiants favored the latter. Defiants successfully destroyed installations in Haras and compromised the region-wide defense network, though they reportedly suffered high casualties as a result. Outside observers believed the 7th Fleet had been caught off guard and severely underestimated the capabilities of the Defiants.
Despite the destruction of their defensive cortex, the 7th Fleet maintained an aggressive posture, thanks partly to loyalist capsuleer forces serving as guards for military complexes. Thanks to the efforts of cloaked scouts, they were able to ambush the Defiants during a resupply mission in Kurniainen, destroying two capital ships, one battleship, eight cruisers, and four frigate class hulls.
The victory was short lived, however, as the Defiants mounted a massive counter offensive. In several coordinated strikes, the Defiants destroyed eight key military installations throughout the Sasen constellation.
The 7th Fleet quickly recovered, thanks in part to their capsuleer allies, and stepped up their assaults on the Defiants. It seemed they would wind up the victors, when Admiral Saracen was suddenly recalled to the Throne Worlds on the order of Chamberlain Karsoth. Reports soon emerged that the fleet had clashed with local Holders, some of them turning violent. Saracen additionally had apparently been acting independently from Imperial Navy orders.
Saracen was soon accused of treason by Chamberlain Karsoth and stripped of all rank and titles. Evidence was released that stated the Admiral planned to establish the Bleak Lands as a personal fief or even secede from the Empire entirely. Leaderless and in disarray, the 7th Fleet essentially stood down, remaining passively in the Bleak Lands for further orders.
Shortly after, the remnants of the 7th Fleet was transferred to Aridia to defend against possible Serpentis incursions. The Fleet was bolstered with the remnants of the Kador Family fleet, following the latter's confiscation by Empress Jamyl I.