abandoning much of its strength, something Victor refused to sanction, and within six hours of leaving the city the retreat turned into a fighting withdrawal, the rearguard of the Prince's Men In almost constant contact with the vanguard of the Arcturans.
What followed was nineteen hours of hell as the two forces battered each other, the constant pressure of the Arcturan 'Mech regiment and its impressive fighter support costing the 244th almost a third of its strength. In a desperate attempt to slow the Arcturan advance, Prince Victor engaged the Loyalist commander, Colonel Linda McDonald, in an impromptu duel. Victor's Daishi outclassed his opponent's King Crab but it was a hard fought engagement, ending when a combination ot damage and the mayhem of the battlefield swepl the combatants apart.
The Crucis Lancers fared little better against the militia units, forced to go at the pace of its slowest elements and thus allowing the taster AI'M elements to gnaw away at its flanks. As the two Allied forces converged on their new LZ, Colonel Vlneman dispatched her wounded and much of the Lancer's Infantry to board their transports and boost for the presumed safety of orbit.
Here, too, Maria Estaban out-planned the Prince. Where the Prince's force could rely on only a single WarShip, the Avalon-class FCS Melissa Davion, the loyalists had secured two Fox-class corvettes, the LAS Robert Kelswa and LAS Robert Marsden. The Lancer transports evaded the combat JumpShips in orbit but it was clear that both the evacuation and the ground battle were in grave danger should the corvettes stage orbital bombardment runs. Further complicating matters, a fourth Loyalist unit—the Alarion Jaegers— dropped into the Allies' rear area, threatening both the Outland Legion and the LZ. Precentor Raymond Irelon, serving as Allied strategic commander for the battle, ordered Victor's evacuation before the situation became untenable. Victor refused initially, but was eventually persuaded to comply so that even if the battle was lost, the war could continue.
It was another thirteen hours after Victor's evacuation before the last of the Allied troops made if off York, thanks largely to a valiant rearguard effort by elements of the 244th and the Lancers. A battalion of Lancer infantry, the LZ security force, was incarcerated in a Loyalist prison camp for the remainder of the war, while almost twothousand Allied infantry, armor crews, pilots and MechWarrlors lay dead on Salisbury Plain. Two DropShips had failed to run the blockade. costing the Lancers a further company each of 'Mechs and armor. Victor mourned the allied losses but realized he had in fact been very fortunate to extract any troops from Esteban's trap.
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