The Giant Plant (continued . . .)

In the great square of Trigan City, the cavalry of the Imperial Guard formed up behind their Emperor for what promised to be their last battle. Tax Toru, the disgraced guard commander, came forward. Imperial Majesty ! I claim the honour of dying with you ! Granted ! When the leaders of the rebel force saw the thin line of cavalry barring their way into the city, some of their confidence left them. Trigo ! Your city is being devastated by the giant rallus and your empire is crumbling about your ears —we call upon you to surrender ! Trigo replied coolly to the blustering demand. You are misinformed ! The rallus have been destroyed. There will be no surrender—we will fight to the end, and a new empire will arise from the ashes of the old ! Uneasy murmurings broke out in the rebel ranks. You hear that ? Trigo's beaten the rallus ! What a man ! There's no one like him on Elekton ! Are we going to replace him with the likes of them ? I'm not, for one ! It was like a miracle. Before the defenders' astonished eyes, the rebel army faded away into the dust of the plain. They've given up ! It is all over !—the Empire stands !
Within days, the population streamed back into the city, and the work of rebuilding commenced. The great scientist Peric made a full enquiry of the phenomenon of the ibis plants which had caused the disaster. He is now the only living subject who ate the ibis seeds. He is a normal adult with a child's mind. Happily, he will become mentally adult in the normal span of time. All he has lost is his childhood. The effect on the rallus was much more sinister ! Peric, it must never happen again ! Nor will it, Imperial Majesty ! The giant ibises will be destroyed, and the formula of the compound will remain locked in my mind ! As for Tax Toru—there was a happy outcome to his personal tragedy. You are a proud man who never deigned to answer the charges made against you. We now have a confession from another officer who was the real traitor. Your name is cleared, Tax Toru ! And so, at the parade in celebration of the saving of the Empire, Tax Toru took his place at the head of the Imperial Guard.

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 480 on 27 March 1971.


The Giant Plant (continued . . .)

Tax Toru made good his escape from the Lokan stronghold with projectiles screaming about his bent head. I am riding from one certain death to another—but it must be done ! In the early hours of the morning, he reached Trigan City and gained admission to the Imperial Palace. This unkempt wretch demands to speak with you, Imperial Majesty ! Who are you— what do you want ? Tax Toru tensed himself. He knew that the fate of an escaped convict was to be slain on sight. I am Tax Toru—formerly commander of your Imperial Majesty's guard ! That traitor ! Cut him down ! Leave him ! Why have you risked your life to come here ? I know the secret of the rallus, and I wish to save the city ! He told all. By all the stars ! The ibis plant —the one I treated with my special compound—must have scattered its seeds on the wind ! Yes ! There is a peasant's son who grew to the size of a man in the space of a few lunar months. And it was from the child's father that the Lokans learned the weakness of all who eat the ibis seeds . . . . . . They have a mad craving for water ! Of course ! The swiftly- multiplying body-cells would require vast quantities of liquid. This gives us a weapon to destroy the rallus ! The rallu horde had retired underground. In the hours before dawn, guards set to work in the silent city. Every drop of water in the city must be poured away or made undrinkable !
Glutinous black oil was poured on to the palace lake. By dawn, they will have only one place to drink . . . The river ! As the twin suns of Elekton rose above the horizon, the rallus came out and sniffed the air for water. They scoured the city in vain. When the suns were high in the sky, the thirst-crazed horde streamed out of the great gates. They are heading for the river ! Nothing on Elekton could stop them now ! The river Trigan flowed deep and fast. The tumbling mass swept towards it. Trigo and his companions watched from the ramparts. It was soon over. Every last one . . . Drowned by their unquenchable craving. Suddenly . . . By all the demons of Daveli ! We have overcome the plague—and here come the rebels ! They came across the plain. Rebels from all over the crumbling Empire—come to feast like birds of prey upon the prostrate city !

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 479 on 20 March 1971.


The Giant Plant (continued . . .)

The Giant Plant

The small boy who looked like a man raced through the streets, pursued by flying stones. Ha ! See the big fellow run ! Mother ! Mother ! They're hurting me ! He reached home, and the comforting arms of his mother. My child—have those rough street boys been ill-treating you again ? Yes—they wouldn't let me play with them. Soon he was sleeping peacefully. He has the body of a grown man but he is still a child in his mind. Yes, but his mind grows every day. Husband—can we not take him away to some remote spot where he may mature in peace ? So the family left the city and settled in a valley beyond the plain. There they built a rough hut, and cultivated a vegetable patch. But others occupied the heights above the valley—a band of renegade Lokans who had never accepted Trigan rule. Get rid of those Trigans ! Take what they have, and put them to the sword. The Lokans attacked. Mercy ! Spare us, and —and I will show you a miracle ! A miracle ? I don't believe it ! Such ibises ! It's true. Look at our son —three lunar months ago he was a sickly child in arms, and we feared for his life !
The puzzled Lokans pondered. Mother—may I have a drink of water ? Another strange thing— he drinks water all the time. He could drain a river dry. Instead of slaying the family, they brought them before their leader. It is a fantastic tale—but it may be true. It can easily be tested. At an order from the leader, one of the band went out and trapped a rallu, one of the fierce vermin of Elekton. Feed it the ibis seeds ! Within days, the rallu had to be transferred—with great difficulty—into a much larger cage ! Imagine ten thousand of them set loose in a crowded city ! By all the stars, I'd hate to meet that brute outside its cage ! Brothers ! Here is a weapon with which we can destroy Trigan City, and perhaps bring that accursed empire to its knees ! Meanwhile, in the dreaded convict mines, the hate-filled Tax Toru had reached the end of his endurance. Escape ! Escape ! And then—death to Trigo's empire ! The nobleman whom Trigo had debased for treason was ready to take his revenge ! HA ! Uuuuuh . . .

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 475 on 20 February 1971.