York

After the surprising ease with which his forces seized Alarion, Victor approached York his intended base of operations for the next few months—with an air of guarded optimism. The meaning of the withdrawn garrison from Alarion was unclear but it seemed most likely that his aunt, Nondi Stelner, was concentrating her forces around the capital to head off a thrust by the Prince in that direction. Nonetheless, after the close-call on Newtown Square he wasn't going to be over-confident in his landings on York and chose to do so with the Prince's Men, the Sixth Crucis Lancers, and the collection of warriors who had flocked to his banner from across the Inner Sphere—known as the Outland Legion. There would be no Adam Steiner-style trap here, he thought. He was nearly dead wrong.

Unlike Newtown Square, where the Fourteenth Donegal followed Victor's force in and staged a combat drop on top of his positions, some of the forces arrayed against him on York were already in place, concealed in a number of bunkers and warehouses across the planet. The Allied forces were given time to land on York and set up camp, tying them to fixed defensive points where their supplies were located, before the ambushers emerged from hiding and moved against them.

Identifying their opponents as the Alarion and Carlisle APMs, the Crucis Lancers moved out from their cantonments, ready to crush the grossly outclassed militias while the Prince's Men and the Outland Legion secured the HQ compound and supplies. The Lancers moved southwest across the Salisbury Plains, rapidly closing on the militia and were a scant 15 kilometers from the enemy lines when Maria Esteban swung the door shut on her trap. The General's other RCT—the Eleventh Arcturan Guard—staged a daring insertion from orbit, landing between the two Allied forces, turning the hunters of Virtue into the prey of York.

Victor quickly realized that his understrength division couldn't hope to prevail against the Arcturan RCT, and that the Lancers would be crushed if it attempted to battle three RCTs. Adding insult to injury, it quickly became apparent that the Allied forces would not be able to load onto their DropShips before their LZs were overrun. With a heavy heart, the Prince ordered all of his forces to break contact and withdraw to a rendezvous point some 500 kilometers west of the capital where they would—he hoped—have time to load up and escape.

The first part of the plan worked and the Crucis Lancers escaped the trap posed by the militia and the Arcturan Guard and staged a leap-frogging defense as they fled westwards. In turn, the Arcturan Guard broke off pursuit of the Lancers and focused their efforts on the 244th Division and the Outland Legion. Neither Allied force was swift enough to outrun their pursuers without false Economy

Q: How has the militarization of the fleet affected your business?

A: How hasn't It? Normally at this time of year the Star is on the Skye run. This year we're stuck here at Tharkad in a mandated hold in case the LAAF need to transship units or supplies.

Q: What is happening to non-military goods? A: The High Command has issued some exemptions to their militarization orders, principally for the bulk transports shipping foodstuffs and petrochemicals. You know, the essentials.

Q: And other goods?

A: Shipped on an as-needed basis, officially at least. In practicu, the whole system is FUBARsd because uf holds and military traffic. Some shipments get to their destination on time, but most arrive late or not at all. The black market is running wild, making a killing on staples. It's the Alliance's "nightmare scenario" Q: In what way?

A: We're an economic power, and not only is our external trade in tatters but we can't support our own people properly. The Mariks must be creasing themselves laughing. They've gone from second-rate power to economic masters in thirty years, all at our expense. Hell, even Liao probably has a higher Gross Domestic Product than us at the moment... Q: And the prospects?

A: What prospects? I've made 5-percent of my usual annual turnover in the last 18 months and the promised compensation from the Alliance government has yet to materialize. It the war carries on for much longer I'll be bankrupt, as will most of the merchant fleet.

- Jade Sibley, captain of the merchant vessel Donegal Star, in an interview with The Tharkad Insider, 4 April 3064

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