The Cunning Swarmer Vine, or Cuswa as it had been abbreviated by the kind of people who like abbreviations, had been discovered on an Earth-like planet, designated G-LXXV, some 1200-ish light years away from the Deep Space Exploration-projects headquarters in orbit around Mars. It had immediately entranced botanists around the galaxy with its unique plant-life. Or, one could say, unique plant. The entire planet surface was covered in plant-life, which upon discovery turned out to be entirely the same organism. An excited surface-expedition was launched. Mankind’s scientists had never seen anything quite like this. The ones who were chosen to be sent to the surface would not see anything again. One of the first important discoveries to be made was that the plant was sentient to some degree, and quite aggressive. The landing party survived just long enough for all crew-members to leave their drop-ship and land on the surface proper, then the thick vines covering the ground reared up, crushing, choking and burying the expedition members in seconds. A second expedition was launched, with far greater care. One of the few untouched areas was chosen, and remote surveillance was set up. The organism was still growing, striving to cover all available ground. It had no appreciable presence underwater, but the vines, flowers and pods covered the water surfaces around the entire planet had effectively ended the freedom of marine life. Select pools were open to the air, with the organisms given free reign from whatever natural predator had contested its own rise to dominance-by-numbers. But the planet organism was their new predator, keeping the population at a stable number through eating for its own survival and growth. Evidence of other lifeforms was found, but no trace of living specimens was seen anywhere. The concluded story was told to the scientific community by a man who had become Lead Expedition Scientist when his superior had chanced upon a vine encroaching on their campsite.
The planet-organism, or Cunning Swarmer Vine as they had called it, for they had no-one versed in latin upon the ship, was the single largest living organism ever encountered. Some time in the planets past, it had been kept in check by some natural predator. Then something, possibly a climate change or an unfortunate disease, had decimated the population of the predator so much that they could not combat the Vines growth enough. The Cuswa exploded out of control. Within years it conquered its immediate habitat, then over centuries it controlled the entire planet, reshaping the ecosystem toward its own growth over all. What would happen when it had used all available ground, none could say. Suffice to say, if a seed or spore from it should reach Earth uncontrolled, it would be disaster. At the after-party, a helpful linguist provided that callidus examen vitis would be the latin version of their name.
Baron Bernard Raulf McKenzie was a very wealthy man indeed. He had been in the business of construction materials and agricultural# vehicles when a joint effort by space exploration organisations around the globe opened the way for human colonies outside the Sol system. The ensuing boom in the need for construction for houses and agriculture for sustainability had made men like Bernard quite rich. He was not actually a Baron, but owned quite a piece of midwest north America for himself, having purchased it from the government for a hefty price. It was, of course, called the Barony.
In line with his agricultural business work, he was also a keen botanist with connections to the scientific society. So when the Cuswa Vine was presented, he could barely contain his excitement. Purchases through official channels immediately proved impossible. G-LXXV was restricted space, enforced by military ships. Undeterred, the Baron turned to his less-than-legal connections. A secret operation was launched. The capabilities and dangers being well known, the expedition was a success, retrieving a cluster of spores in a secure containement unit. Back on Earth, the Baron had constructed a pen for the plant, well away from the eyes of the public and, more importantly, the government. He might be eccentric, he thought, but he was not stupid or reckless. The pen was several hundred meters removed from any other living organism, was sterile and behind two layers of thick glass. Several exterminator banks encircled the glass cage, ready to blast any escape attempt. He thought he was taking no chances.
The ship arrived back on Earth, thankfully undetected by Customs. Payment was given, with a little extra for good work, and the containement unit was carefully opened into the pen. Inside the glass cage, the air mixture should be similar to G-LXXVs makeup. Over the next couple weeks, the Baron entrusted his business to his advisors, practically living in the pen. Observing, adjusting. It did not grow as big as he had expected, but was still growing faster than any terrestrial plant with its likeness. A large bulb slowly emerged in the center, quickly encircled by a crown of thick vines. They grew and grew in size until one day, as he was noting down numbers after a particularly big growth spurt, the vines started shivering intensely. Unnerved, the Baron ordered the exterminator banks activated, but to not engage just yet. As he watched, the vines encircled one another, forming into one massive green limb that also covered the mysterious bulb. He noted that they were long enough to reach almost any pane of glass in the cage. Quick as a bullwhip, the limb snapped upwards, shattering the glass ceiling. The Baron didn’t even need to order the exterminator banks to activate, they were shooting flames before the glass had even touched the floor. A few minutes passed, and the Baron could wipe the sweat from his brow. The plant had been reduced the ashes. Had he noticed the 2 conspicuous holes in the upper ceiling, he would have been less happy.
Another planet had been laid out to be conquered.