It is AD 45, and centurions Macro and Cato, formerly of the mighty Roman Army, are trapped in Rome awaiting investigation for their involvement in a fellow officer's death. But it's not just their future that hangs in the balance . . . Ruthless pirates have taken possession of three scrolls vital to the Emperor's safety. Knowing that Macro and Cato have the courage to undertake such a commission, the devious Imperial Secretary makes them an offer they can't refuse. The officers set sail with the Imperial fleet - but the pirates have been forewarned, and the Romans pay heavily. Outnumbered by the enemy, Macro and Cato fear that their mission is impossible, and if they fail, the Empire will fall . . .