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.