270 AD. Rome has ruled Syria for more than three centuries but now the weakened empire faces a desperate threat. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra has turned her Roman-trained army against her former masters and the once invincible legions have been crushed. Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt have fallen and now Antioch, Syria's capital, stands exposed. A young intelligence agent fresh from officer training, Cassius Corbulo is the only ranking Roman officer left in the line of the Palmyran advance. He must take command of the fort of Alauran, the last stronghold still in Roman hands, and hold it until reinforcements arrive. What Cassius finds at Alauran would daunt the most seasoned veteran, let alone a 19 year-old with no experience of war. A mere scattering of divided and demoralized legionaries remain, backed up by some fractious Syrian auxiliaries and a drunken Praetorian Guardsman. With the Palmyrans just days away, Cassius must somehow find the discipline, resourcefulness and courage to organize the garrison, save Alauran and secure Rome's eastern frontier.