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.