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 panic-stricken crowd broke through the ranks of a cohort of the Trigan Imperial Guard at the far end of the square. Take aim ! . . . Then that magnificent body of warriors—who had won a hundred hopeless battles in the Empire's short history—turned and fled ! Eeeeeeh ! Aaaaaagh ! Having cleared the streets, the ravenous horde broke into the city grain store, and wiped it clean. Nothing could satisfy their voracious appetites. By nightfall, they had gnawed the foundations of some of the older, wooden buildings to powder—and they collapsed. By the following dawn, the rallus had retired underground—and the hungry, angry populace besieged the Imperial Palace. Why doesn't the Emperor do something ? Give us food ! Down with him ! The Emperor Trigo saw it all. Yes ! Something must be done—and quickly ! Peric, I look to you for a means of combating this scourge ! Imperial Majesty . . . Peric was Elekton's top scientist. The giant rallus are like their normal brethren—they are quick and cunning. Like all rallus, they refuse to take poisoned bait. But I am working on the problem.
The chaos increased. Seizing the opportunity offered, some of the discontented vassal-states of the Empire came out in open rebellion. Sooner or later, Trigan City will have to be evacuated—then we will march in ! True ! In the meantime, we will strike at their communications ! Patrol craft of the Trigan Air Fleet were attacked without warning ! After four days of the terror, the population fled from the capital. Trigan City, once heart of a mighty Empire, lay dying in the night. Young Janno remained on duty, guarding his Emperor. That night, he was caught out alone in the peril- ridden streets. There are more ahead of me ! —I'm cut off ! He backed against a wall and drew his blade.

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 477 on 6 March 1971.