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"The planet's immune system is doing everything it can. The planet's immune system is doing everything it can."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Riding Robot  
  A single person means of bipedal transportation.  

Your own personal robotic Hodor.

A large riding robot was standing there, another toolbox hanging from one hand, humming quietly to itself. Painted on its metallic chest was the same crest of the service company that now adorned my own chest.

"We travel in comfort," I said. "Take this." I got my fingers out of the way just in time as it reached for the toolbox.

During my rapid trips through the city I had seen a number of these riding robots from a distance, but had never been close to one before. There was a sort of saddle arrangement on their backs where the operator rode, but I hadn't the slightest idea of how to get into the seat. Did the thing kneel to be mounted or drop down a ladder or what? Cars and other robots were going by in this street and a squad of soldiers was approaching at a good clip. I found myself sweating again.

"I wish to leave. Now."

Nothing happened. Except that the soldiers were that much closer. The robot stood as stolid as a statue. There was no help here. I didn't know if it was the orthodox manner or not, I had to do something, so I put one foot on the thing's hip socket, grabbed a riding light up near its shoulder blade and swarmed up its side. Hidden motors hummed louder as it shifted balance to accommodate my added weight. I slipped into the saddle just as the squad of soldiers trotted by. They ignored me completely.

The seat was comfortable. I had a good view, with my head at least three meters above the ground, and I hadn't the slightest idea what to do next. Though leaving this vicinity would make fine openers. A compact control panel was set into the top of the robot's head and I pressed the button labeled WALK. I felt the grinding vibration of internal gears being engaged and it began to mark time in place. A good beginning. A rapid search found the button marked FORWARD. It lurched ahead and broke into an easy trot. I soon left the police and all the excitement behind.

From The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, by Harry Harrison.
Published by Pyramid in 1970
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