ENTRY 176: The Iktomi Vault
The shattered settlements of the Iktomi on Echo V are spread out in networks across the world, the remnants of shattered, overgrown highways and aqueducts connecting broken city to broken city. Yet the whole of the surface of the world was no occupied by the Iktomi—maps from space show regions that were inhospitable or otherwise neglected, free from Iktomi structures. Some were deserts and forests, beneath which the satellite maps showed former riverbeds and forgotten townships long buried by sand or crawling plants. On the ocean shore off one continent lay an entire nation that seemed to have fallen into the sea, to lay undisturbed. And in one isolated rocky butte—a geological anomaly, far from the Iktomi cities old or new—they discovered the vault.
Perhaps once it had been a natural cave, but if so the ancient Iktomi had mined it out and enlarged it into a deep shaft reaching into a natural hollow in the butte through a series of three chambers, each of which had been guarded by massive stone doors, heavily engraved with undecipherable signs in matte white and black, and the walls and floor as well are decorated in eye-catching interlocking circles and geometric designs of bright primary colors. Test samples from materials in the vault leads Xenoarchaeologists to believe that the initial period of creation for the vault was about twelve thousand years ago, and that is featured at least three subsequent periods of activity where the vault was opened, expanded, and resealed, and the three chambers leading into the natural hollow show considerable defenses had been erected, including some sort of jamming devices to disable wireless signals, the remains of three automated laser emplacements, and explosives set in the walls to collapse the chambers if the doors had been breached.
The reason for these defenses remains unknown, but whatever they guarded was obviously insufficient, as the entire complex has been breached. The massive stone discs that were rolled into place like bank vaults to seal each chamber lie shattered, the automated weapons melted from heat characteristic with plasma weapons, the designs carved into walls and ceiling pock-marked from various other weapons-fire and the heavy tread of some six-legged arthropod vehicle. The innermost chamber has yet to be breached by xenoarchaeologists—a partial detonation of the final security measure has blocked access to it, but based on the residual radiation leaking through the loose stone, the current belief is that the site contains several tons of radioactive material, though this may be an overestimation as many of the materials used in the third cavern are based on pitchblende and radium; robots armed with UV lights have reported distinct fluorescent patterns are visible that are different from the brightly-colored markings in the previous two chambers.
Still, citing the risks and difficulties of clearing a way into the central hollow, xenoarchaeologists are currently excavating what might be the remains of a nearby worksite that could give clues into what the Iktomi were storing in their vault, and why. Some researchers have also pointed out the disturbing similarities between the Iktomi vault and human long-term radioactive waste storage facilities.