Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Up Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Subsubsection: 3 June 2015 (the fight at Tabriz) 

22 April 2015 (investigations in Israel)

After a quick trip to the UK to inform both governments of what’s been going on (the possibility of something dodgy in Mexico and indeed in Japan, the Signal Fire, the new Storm Knights) and to order some specialised hardware in case of more vampire encounters (lignum vitæ knives for Stephen and Diamond, ditto crossbow bolts for Thorfin), there’s a message taking the group to Israel.
The Israeli army has been buying tanks from Russia, deliberately built to work in the tech axiom of the Nile Empire. The first batch went into combat, and failed. It’s not at all clear why.
The group flies to Tel Aviv, and by the time they get through customs and so on (having to leave guns behind) they’re met by a man in his twenties, clearly very fit, and also clearly used to wearing some sort of uniform, though he’s in casual clothes now. He introduces himself as Benny Herzog, and gives the impression that he is some sort of liaison to the IDF, though he doesn’t go into any details.
There were no survivors from the tank company, but there is a recording of radio transmissions from the command tank. (These are Soviet T-34-85s, so most of them don’t have radios at all.) As the company was advancing to ambush a Nile Empire patrol, some of their engines shut down, while others started racing out of control. With the tanks immobilised and unable to shift their guns, they were easy prey for the invaders.
The group gets hold of some tools, and the full blueprints, and Benny borrows a light truck (painted pink) from a museum; they head out to the site, now disputably in Nile Empire territory. There’s a certain amount of taking cover from airships, but they get to the location; the tanks have all been wrecked by shell fire. Some bodies are on the ground, machine-gunned, but most of them are still inside the vehicles.
The team conducts a minute examination of the engine, hoisting it out for better access. Everything seems to be in order… but while checking every component, David notices that the governor (a mechanical device which adjusts fuel flow based on engine speed) contains distinctly high-tech components within its conventional housing. (He’s not sure whether they’re within the capabilities of Core Earth or not, but it seems plausible.) The housing matches the way it’s supposed to look, so this seems to be deliberate deception. (“Well, Russia has always been such a friend to Israel. She gave us many of our best scientists, after all,” says Benny.)
Diamond tries to start one of the other tanks’ engines; it turns over sluggishly, then runs. Its governor is similarly high-tech internally. Stephen searches for signs of the Nile Empire’s infamous “Reality Bomb”, not finding any; he also gathers up the tankers’ dogtags.
They head back to Tel Aviv, and talk to the engineers who inspected the tanks in Volgograd before they were shipped to Israel. They certainly checked the governors, and those were a match for the plans. On the other hand… one of them thinks, and the others eventually agree with him, that these aren’t the same tanks at all. There are all sorts of small details from the wreckage in the desert, too insignificant to be on the blueprints, which don’t quite match his memory of the tanks he inspected. But the chassis numbers match.
There’s a second batch of ten tanks en route from Russia now, aboard a freighter coming down the Caspian Sea; they’ll be taken by train from Rasht across Iran and Iraq to Jordan and Israel. The inspectors, a different team, didn’t find anything wrong with them.
The team heads for Rasht by train, with Diamond in appropriately modest garb and Thorfin in full burqa. Benny (who stays behind) seems to know people who can readily get hold of Saudi passports. They get there a day or so before the freighter arrives, and Stephen does some casual work commercial diving for weed clearance in the docks at Bandar-e Anzali. Security at the port is very clearly minimal.
When the ship arrives, the tanks are moved relatively late in the process of unloading, and taken by crane onto rail cars, which are left on sidings overnight. Diamond sneaks in, and verifies that the governors on these engines are still as Konstantin Chelpan intended. The team sneaks aboard two of the tanks, David and Diamond hiding in one and Stephen and Thorfin in the other, preparing to camp out for a few days and see what happens.
 Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Up Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Subsubsection: 3 June 2015 (the fight at Tabriz)