Galerius waited. The strategy meeting would occur soon, and he had every reason to wait for it. The two armies currently stood at a detente. Galerius didn’t expect this to last long, of course, if only because the Sassanids would want to get this battle over with as soon as possible. They would be very worried about possible Eastern Roman reinforcements arriving.
Still, neither side was actively fighting, and neither side seemed to want to fight. That meant that Galerius had time, and time was the most precious substance in the entire world. If he was out of time, that would be a disaster, but his time wasn’t up yet. He could still fight, and there was no battle occurring.
The uneasy detente lasted until nightfall, and Galerius smiled at that. The detente might break when dawn arrived once more, but it had existed for long enough. The Eastern Roman commanders could make their plan. Galerius smiled as he headed towards the meeting tent…
When he arrived, Albinus was already there. That was actually surprising, as it was dusk, and Clementius wasn’t there. Clementius and Albinus were normally together, although that could just be him arriving late.
Clementius arrived soon after, and the three of them made small talk for a while. Then, Galerius cut to the chase.
“So, our initial plan failed pretty badly,” he said. “The Sassanids weren’t nearly as surprised as we had hoped that they would be, which meant that the battle has lasted longer than planned. In addition to that, the Sassanids seem to know a lot about the terrain near Hasakah. As such, what should our new plan be?”
“To be fair, Hasakah was under Sassanid control for quite a while,” Albinus pointed out. “It only makes sense that they would know the terrain. As such, any plan involving taking advantage of the terrain that assumes that the Sassanid army doesn’t know what the terrain is will not work.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Galerius replied. “The good thing is that we don’t have to defeat the Sassanid army. All we have to do is hold long enough for our reinforcements to get here. That should be easier than outright winning.”
“We thought that this battle would be easy,” Clementius pointed out. “And now we’re barely even holding the line. Our line has almost collapsed multiple times. The Sassanids have made it inside of our camp. This battle has been far from easy. We shouldn’t underestimate our opponents.”
“Is that why neither of the Isaurian legions have actually been fighting against the Sassanids in recent days?” Galerius snapped. “The Legio I Armeniaca could have used some help keeping the Sassanids from overrunning our position!”
“You were doing fine,” Albinus said. “We need to preserve our forces. Yes, we shouldn’t underestimate the Sassanid army, but we shouldn’t overestimate it either. Completely destroying the Sassanid army isn’t our goal. We shouldn’t even want Persia proper in the long run anyway!”
“I thought the Imperial Throne wanted to destroy all Sassanid military might forever,” Galerius commented. “Why don’t they? If the Sassanids are eliminated, we won’t have to deal with them in the future, right? Why should we have to deal with an enemy on our eastern border?”
“You’re ridiculously naive if you truly believe that, Galerius” Albinus responded. “If we conquer Persia, our eastern border will be even harder to defend than our current eastern border is. We need a natural border, and the Zagros Mountains count as that, if nothing else. Seizing control of Persia proper would force us to defend against incursions from both Central Asia and India. If we conquer those areas, then we need to take Cathay, which we know only from rumors! One empire can’t govern the world! Regardless of such matters, this meeting was supposed to discuss strategy, so what’s ours?”
“We hold out until reinforcements arrive,” Clementius suggested. “All three legions engage the enemy, and we hold them for as long as we can.”
“That’s a good strategy,” Galerius mused. “But it doesn’t account for if we can’t hold. If we must abandon Hasakah, we should burn it and all of the areas around it. We should ensure that the Sassanids win a useless plot of land.”
“That’s harsh,” Albinus commented. “But it will be effective, and that’s what matters. Agreed.”
Clementius agreed as well, and Galerius moved back to his tent to get a few short hours of sleep. However, he couldn’t shake the feeling that Albinus was plotting something…