“How can you be from New York?”
“I don’t know,” answered the leader of the rhino riders. “How can anyone be from anywhere?”
“How did you end up here?” asked the Knight.
“I like being outside and I hated every job I ever had. I never wanted to sit behind a desk and I never wanted to teach, or do anything, but be outside. One day I was in Central Park and saw a weird, kind of blurry, movement in the air and I walked into it and ended up here. So, now I’m outdoors all the time, I get to fly around, and all these men follow me. I have plenty to eat and I can sleep in, whenever I feel like it.”
Judy just stared at him. “That’s why you stayed here?”
“That and I didn’t know how to get back. When I finally figured it out, I decided I didn’t want to go back. The earth is fighting for her life and humanity sucks.”
“I want the war to end. I want the rhinos to be happy and free,” said Judy.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because if you’re from New York you know what hatred, and violence did to the States and the rest of the world. I don’t want that to happen here. It doesn’t have to. No one even knows why they’re fighting.”
“Will you return the rhinos?” he asked.
“No, but if the war ends and you treat the rest of the rhinos with love and kindness, maybe the ones you still have will choose to stay.”
“Have you seen my men?” he laughed. “Not the brightest bulbs in the box.”
“You can show them how to be better.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“I’ll kill you,” said Judy. “I’d rather not do that. I think we can be friends, but if you force my hand…you’ll leave me no choice.”
“I don’t believe you can do it.”
Her Knight moved closer. Danny hissed and his eyes turned silver.”
“Then again…” said the leader of the rhino flyers. “Maybe you can. What concessions will you make, if we stop fighting?”
“I won’t kill all of you,” she said. “I thought that was obvious.”
“Can you give us a minute,” said the Knight, dragging Judy aside. “Tell him he can keep the land he already has and he can keep his rhinos, if he lets us check on them whenever we like. Tell him if a rhino wants to leave he, or she, can. Tell him…”
“He can come to the castle for a meeting once a week, until everything is straightened out and after that, whenever he’s invited for dinner.”
“I wasn’t going to say that,” said the Knight.
“I know, but that’s what I’m going to tell him.”
Danny held the leader of the rhino riders in place with his stare.
“You’re cat’s weird,” said the leader.
“Maybe,” agreed Judy. “He could take you down before you even knew he was moving.” Danny arched his back and head butted Judy’s calf.
“They told me you said something about fighting each other for prizes,” said the leader. I’ll set it up and see if that will satisfy some of them. I know humans screwed up the earth and each other. This place is smaller, I though the war was just something to do.”
“You’re an idiot,” said Judy. “People and animals were hurt and killed.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said. “Are the rhinos really wearing clothes?”
“A few of them, yes.”
“That’s crazy and you know it.”
“Not as crazy as killing each other and not even knowing why.”
“I’m from earth, remember? That’s what we do there. How could you forget THAT?”
Judy sighed. “Come to the castle for dinner tomorrow and we’ll hammer out the details. You can bring your second in command, if you like. Around seven.”
“I’ll think about what you said.”
“You do that,” said Judy. “And, this might be rude but could you please take a shower.”
“Your Knight wants to kill me,” he laughed.
“But he won’t, because he’s smart enough to know that peace is better than war and being alive is being better than being dead. Actually,” she said thoughtfully, “we don’t know that for sure, about the dead part, but you know what I mean.”
The leader laughed. “I do know what you mean and I don’t want to kill your Knight because I’m not from around here. It’s not in my blood. All the men over there want to kill him though,” he said, pointing to a mob of rhino riders.”
“How’s the guy with the broken nose? The one I zapped.”
“He thinks it makes him look macho. He has a hard time breathing but he thinks it wort it.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow night,” she said.
Then Judy, Danny and her Knight, got on their rides and took to the sky.