March 11th, 2015.
Siberia was not nice this time of year. Anders Forsman wondered if Siberia was ever really nice at any time of the year. Either way, this wasn't his normal neck of the woods. The Siberian tundra was the kind of place you shipped low performance Insurgency officers to try and whip them into shape. But apparently one of those washouts had stumbled upon something big before the hoarders had a chance to nab it from them. So the Insurgency had decided that he would be the one to go verify that it was as big a hazard as they claimed it to be. Forsman personally thought that it was a cluster of bullshit coming from some attention whore officers. He'd see that it wasn't as jazzy as they had made it out to be, and some of them would probably be shot. Bing bang done.
The convoy was beginning to slow down, and at the head of the pack Forsman could almost make out the silhouette of a big tower. He opened his car door and was hit by a block of freezing air. Pulling up his parka, he began trudging down toward the silhouette of a tower, hazy from all the snow in the air. It was the thing the washouts claimed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Orville walked up next to him. Orville was another one of the guys the big chiefs had sent down to look at this thing. He was great at explaining to overexcited officers that the magic flying bobble-head they had found did not require an Apozem recovery protocol. Forsman nodded to him as they walked toward their mutual destination.
It was a big fucker. That was the first thing that occurred to Forsman as they got closer. There were the signs of excavation protocols being enacted even at this distance from the site. He saw kids digging holes through solid permafrost. Locals, probably recruited recently. As they went on, the digging became more and more organized. It went from freezing teens digging haphazard holes to professional engineers yakking about controlled demolition with the tremble of heavy machinery permanently in the background. The excavated area itself was at least three hundred and fifty meters across. Not meters, thought Forsman, yards. They didn't use meters anymore.
The hole itself was too deep to see anything, but the officers in charge were more than happy to blather about all their theories on what the object really was. "Maybe it is some ruins that came from ancient civilizations!" was one of the more popular theories. Another one that was brought out almost as often was that it was an extraterrestrial vehicle. Most of them hadn't seen the thing for themselves, and had no idea what it actually was. But that didn't stop every officer Forsman interviewed from spouting off their own kettle of bullshit.
"Now lieutenant," Forsman would say, as he pretended to look at the important documents on his clipboard, "When did you first become aware of this object?"
The lieutenant would reply that they had found it "Pokin' out of a big ditch. Some of the people that used to live in the next town over went wild over it after it grew right into an insurance office."
Things would go on like that, with Forsman asking what had happened to the property (Demolished), townsfolk ("Evacuated"), and how things at the excavation site were going (they always said it was excellent).
And then he would have to ask about their theories on what the object could be. And he would sit and listen as the man seated in front of him listed off speculative bullshit, sometimes with clever theories they had come up with all on their own. The theories usually ran the gamut of things that he had heard a million times before. Aliens, ancients, conspiracy blah blah blah. The only one who wasn't completely up his own ass was a junior officer who had been in the dig site. He was the only officer Forsman knew of who had seen the thing. His name was Jasper.
Jasper told him that the thing looked like a tree connected to a bunch of big roots, all made of some kind of metal substance. When one of his men tried to touch it, they'd been snarled in by millions of fibers growing out of the thing that pulled him in. They had stopped underground excavation after that, and begun trying to dig it out from the surface. Jasper told him that it looked like the thing went a long way into the dirt. It was the only useful information Forsman had gotten all day.
Forsman looked at his accumulated data and shook his head. It was just a textbook case of overeager officers taking something big and scary to be more dangerous than it actually was. All it seemed to be was a big fibrous root in the ground. Strange, certainly, and definitely warranted the Insurgency's attention, but it wasn't doing anything particularly dangerous. Such a shame. He had had hope that maybe this wouldn't be bullshit, that they may have actually found something important before the Foundation could add it to their collections. But…well…that was a fanciful thought. Realistically, he would probably never be important enough to do anything other than these backwater assignments. At least he didn't have to live here.
He shut down the terminal, and a piercing whine began blaring. He covered his ears and ducked. After a second, he realized it was the alarm. The intercom crackled and fizzed, and then spat out a static-riddled announcement.
"ALL SECURITY PERSONNEL ARE TO REPORT TO EXCAVATION SITE PRIME IMMEDIATELY, OBJECT NASAW HAS BEEN ACTIVATED, REPEAT, OBJECT NASAW-" the bulletin sputtered, and then went silent. Forsman got up and grabbed his gun. The door handle stuck for a second, but he was still out in the corridor within moments. The corridor itself was in pandemonium. Men and women in secondhand uniforms ran in every direction, and the feeling of panic was heavy in the air. Forsman noticed Orville calmly walking toward the exit. He pushed his way past a security agent fumbling with a gun and walked beside him.
Their conversation was short.
"Any idea what's going on?"
"None at all."
"Of course. You?"
They hit the exit doors and looked up.
The tower was no longer at the center of the excavation site. Or, rather, it was in the same relative place, but the excavation site was gone. The tower was several hundred feet in the air. Several hundred tendrils, the root structures, trailed down to the earth. They ripped tremendous amounts of earth apart as they were liberated from their underground resting place. It looked like a flower being pinched and lifted into the sky, and they were the bugs being smashed by the uplifting roots.
As the tower grew higher, the ground around them started to break. The trails of the roots drew closer to their location. Forsman looked to his right to ask Orville what to do. He realized Orville was gone. In his place, there was a big mesh root, ornately woven and glimmering in the winter sun. Forsman turned around to go back into the base, radio command about what had happened. And he would've been able to, had the door not been blocked by a large root, also ornate, with intricately carved patterns. Forsman would have turned to try and run, but he tripped on a root. As he watched it crawl up his leg, he didn't feel any pain. He looked over at the dig site, saw roots spreading, making new towers to put themselves out of the ground. Some might call it a shame. He thought it was beautiful.
It was the last thought he ever had.