The cheetahs watched the herd of gazelle from a distance. Not cautious, just patient. A cheetah could outrun a gazelle in the short term but they couldn’t match them for distance and the gazelles would have a head start. The savannah was rich with life, but food was not so plentiful that the pack could afford to waste a lot of energy with false starts and failed hunts.
Then they saw it. One of the younger gazelles, moving more awkwardly than the others, bumped into a larger companion who wheeled around suddenly. The younger gazelle was knocked down and the cheetahs were off, bursting into motion like a thunderbolt loosed from the sky. The herd took off as one, or almost as one… the youngster was still getting to its feet. It would be upright before the first cheetah caught up to it, but it would be too late.
What could it do? Nothing, there was no time to run, no room to escape. They had it dead to rights…
…right up up until the moment it unfolded a pair of great golden wings and leapt skyward, moments before the lead cheetah’s pouncing stride would have brought it down. It shot up into the air, looping and wheeling around and beating its wings furiously before it found a current to glide on, which it rode towards the rest of the herd-flock that had, unnoticed by the single-minded cheetahs, already taken wing.
“Well, fuck,” one of the cheetahs said to the others. “Who the hell ever heard of flying gazelles?”