Subsubsection: 22 April 2015 (investigations in Israel) Up Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Subsubsection: 17 June 2015 (The Road to Khartoum) 

3 June 2015 (the fight at Tabriz)

The train sets off fairly soon afterwards. It’s hot and sweaty in the tanks, and even with some water supplies it’s not a pleasant trip. Fortunately, it only lasts a few hundred miles; in the late afternoon the train pulls into a railyard at Tabriz and more shunting takes place, with wagons being moved around for different destinations.
The wagons with the tanks are eventually pulled into a large goods shed, a light structure with six tracks across its width and both ends fully open, though folding doors are drawn across them. It’s hard to see from inside the tanks, but the other tracks seems to hold wagons with tanks too, and there’s welding of some sort going on.
The team sits tight for the moment. David and Diamond see a man in coveralls coming towards their tank; he opens a panel by the engine, and makes a note, then moves up to the top hatch. Diamond stays quiet in the driver’s compartment, and David does his best to be inconspicuous as the inspector climbs down; then David puts his gun to the man’s head and suggests strongly that he should stay quiet. He does; David produces a pair of handcuffs, and the man cuffs himself to a solid-looking piece of metal. He’s wearing coveralls, clearly somewhat high-tech since they haven’t picked up grease stains from the tanks he’s been looking at. He seems to have been making notes of serial numbers.
Diamond sneaks out and to the office in the corner of the goods shed; there’s one worker in there, but she’s able to get in quietly when he leaves. There are shipping details: working through the records, it seems that these Soviet-built tanks are being diverted via a convoluted route out through Syria, aboard freighters, and to the Nile Empire, while the other tanks are built somewhere in Japan, shipped here up the Persian Gulf, and will ultimately be sent to Israel. At least that’s the plan.
David gags his prisoner, then imitates an inspector to get as far as the next tank, where Thorfin and Stephen are waiting. He explains the situation, while Diamond starts to head back.
There’s a shout: the prisoner has been missed, and the other inspectors and welders get behind cover. The three inside the tank dismount, taking cover underneath the wagon; Diamond gets back inside her tank.
There’s a series of bangs and pops; the guards have apparently fired gas grenades. Thorfin holds his breath; Stephen toughs it out; David finds a gas mask in his pocket, and Diamond isn’t in immediate danger. Diamond starts the engine of her tank, then spins it ninety degrees and drives off the flatbed and through the goods shed wall (it’s quite light and flimsy, at least by tank standards). Stephen sends bursts of rifle fire at the guards, who seem to be trying for a pincer movement along the tracks; Thorfin keeps up a barrage of intimidation (not being able to hold his breath, but he doesn’t really mind), and David watches Thorfin’s back and shoots a guard here and there. The guards are lightly armoured, but start to go down under sustained fire; more arrive to back them up.
Diamond crawls up into the fighting compartment and swivels the tank’s turret to point back into the shed. A projectile arcs past the tank, exploding somewhere ahead. As the other three get out through the hole in the wall, another one comes out, detonating on the tank’s hull and apparently punching a hole; the fighting compartment fills with smoke.
Diamond has put up a reality bubble, because in the Nile Empire it would be entirely reasonable to leave a round or two in a tank that was being shipped from place to place. Using other powers, she “finds” a high-explosive round left in the main gun, and fires it; the two guards who were firing anti-tank grenades simply go away, and resistance is distinctly muted after that.
The team spreads out to look for more practical transport (stealing a locomotive has certain limitations), and Stephen comes back with a Land Rover. The nearest international border, fifty miles or so, is to the north (Azerbaijan and Armenian SSRs), and that’s the way they go.
 Subsubsection: 22 April 2015 (investigations in Israel) Up Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks Subsubsection: 17 June 2015 (The Road to Khartoum)