It wasn’t long ago that I discussed the robotic cheetahs being developed by Boston Dynamics, but it only just occurred to me that there’s no reason they couldn’t build a mountable version.
One possible future: at an American combat base, dawn is just clearing the Afghani mountains and shedding some light on the already ongoing firefight between US and Taliban forces. The chips are down; the Americans are well armed, but heavily outnumbered, and they know the mujahideen are preparing for a final push.
After many frantic radio requests, salvation finally arrives – from the mountain pass comes a terrible grinding, then, roaring through the dust, cavalry saddled on mechanical panthers flood the scene.
Alternatively: the sun is beating down on Juan Munoz, fourteen, as he attempts to escape the nation whose problems have killed his older brothers, left his sisters in ruin, and shattered the heart of his mother.
A bad landing while jumping a fence has slowed him, and the stink of the river he was forced to wade has stuck to him, even if the cooling moisture has not – still, he reflects with a smile, he is nearly there.
That’s when he spots the monster.
A six-foot-long beast, with a man on its back, trots a long circle around his position, eying him. Before the boy can move to evade, the thing wheels on him, closing the distance in the blink of a motorized eye.
It will be another hour, with his leg held awkwardly in the mouth of the feline automaton, until further Border Patrol agents arrive to process his capture.