completely insane, our glory
lost in vain
what a perfect view

enter my coffin
my wintercoffin
awaiting to see the faithful king
what a perfect view!

[GM Note: This is a report of a part of session 8 of the Spiral Confederacy campaign. Session 8 covered a lot of different events, which are too much to describe in one post, so I’m breaking the write-up over three or four separate posts to keep them manageable]
Having successfully recovered what they believed was the Tablet of the Gods, and received a beautiful spaceship in exchange for trading away their dead cargo, the PCs returned from Slainte to The Reach. Upon returning to the Reach they were informed that initial exploration of the Tombspine had begun, and a smart young archaeologist had uncovered several graves, scattered out of order in nearby areas, that were probably linked to the graves that the characters had encountered a death priest trying to explore. Preparations were under way to open the graves and exhume its contents but these would take time. In the meantime the archaeologist had identified one particular grave of interest for its unique design, and was preparing to take a deep scanner to investigate its contents. Would Alva like to join her?
Of course our heroes, being men and women of science, wanted to know. They took the ship’s boat from their new, beautiful ship and headed as fast as they could to the Gardens, taking their weapons of course and the young archaeologist who had found the tomb. At the Gardens they found an agent of Pearl 7 acting as a gate guard, ready to report on any suspicious new entrants to the place, but he reported there had been no unusual activity. They hiked up into the hills, following the path they had followed when last they came here chasing the death priest. They reached the scene of their fight with the priest, now tranquil and scrubbed of any sign of violence or demons, and followed a narrow culvert into the hills. Here the Gardens sprawled across the ancient, craggy remains of a Confederacy spaceship, probably an early Continent class ship, that formed the spine of the structure they were walking along. Wrecked probably 2000 years ago in the Confederacy’s first ill-fated encounter with The Reach, when this sector was still well outside the frontier, this ship would have been 100kms long and 50 kms high, a beast of plasteel and field technology too vast to be easily fragmented; its wrecked superstructure formed the spine on which the entire Gardens was built, layers of wreckage piled on top of its flattened and uncoiled shell. At the higher, older reaches of the gardens, though, those other smaller ships were no longer part of the soil, and the characters found themselves toiling up grassy, forested slopes that were once the upper decks and turrets of this ancient, nameless starship. Mists gathered in the many valleys and tree-lined canyons of the ship’s grave, and all along the undulating ruins near the top of the tombspine they could see the remains of ancient turrets, turned thousands of years ago into tombs for fallen pirates.
One of these tombs was their target. The young archaeologist led them along a narrow valley, filled with mist and cascading water, and up to a long, narrow block of plasteel that had endured against the encroaching forest for millenia. This building was once a missile turret, perhaps holding weaponry capable of destroying a cruiser or the entire fleet of a lesser navy. Now it stood abandoned, hollowed out for its new purpose and left to the elements. They pushed through a narrow door and into the turret itself, and the young archaeologist explained the tomb to them.
It’s a central grave, this huge block of black material that’s blast-proof and bullet proof. There was an elaborate trap in the walls of the turret, some kind of complex laser trap triggered by the tomb itself with sufficient power and coverage to turn everyone in the room into chunks of barbequed meat. It’s been disabled now, but the central tomb is a strange arrangement still.
The tomb sat there, a squat and ominous pile of black … something, taking up much of the room. A small pile of flasks and boxes in one corner indicated the presence of grave goods, unopened and unrobbed. The central tomb rose to chest height, a perfect block of bomb-proof black … something, unmarked in every way. Apart from the small pile of pots and pans the rest of the room was empty and undisturbed, light filtering through a few holes in the ceiling and some plants growing out of cracks in the wall. They fired up the scanner.
They scanned the tomb. The outside of the tomb was, as their archaeologist had noticed, a weapon-proof shell. But inside it was another shell, a massive computer edifice devoted to fighting AIs. Inside that was a small computer and a sub-space power system, still running and dedicated to powering both. The AI defence and the smaller computer were both fried, destroyed by some intruder, probably necessary to disable the laser trap in the walls of the tomb. Once these two defenses had been disabled the lid of the tomb could be opened, which it had been. The body inside the tomb appeared to have been disturbed, though on first inspection nothing had been removed. Beneath the body was a small space, a final holder for grave goods, large enough to hold a tablet. It was empty.
Someone had come here, destroyed the AI defences around the central computer, disabled the trap surrounding the tomb, and disturbed the body inside just enough to take a single grave good – a tablet. The PCs could guess the implications of this: the leader of the Cult of the Unredeemed had come here 1000 years ago, broken into the tomb, and asked his AI to break through the defenses. The Starred One had managed to break the defenses but gone crazy during the battle. The cult leader had then removed the tablet and he and his now-crazy AI had jumped onto a sublight ship and headed off to the Perez system to hide.
This tomb told the PCs that someone placed immense value on the tablet they had found, and in particular they thought it needed to be protected from AIs.
What had they found?