We vote at night. I think it gives them an unfair advantage, because they can see heat, and sense movement, and hear at decibels that dogs ignore.
I knew he was behind me before he crunched the leaves beneath his foot; in fact, I suspect he crushed the leaves to elevate my heart rate. I inhaled deeply, and closed my eyes. If I panicked, he had already won.
“Hajime.” He strikes first, proving he’s no disciple of Shotokan. He comes at me hard with Changquan, starting with a punch from Fanziquán, and rolling into a xuanfengjiao kick. His style is formulaic enough that I just bide my time out of range, and counter with a Bak Mei Waang Lahm strike as he lands, before he gets his balance. He accepts the blow, and turns his momentum into a cekongfan.
He throws several standard punches, chambering after each one, letting his fists fall like raindrops. With my hands in a guard position, I find myself tempted to try the handpuppet distraction, but I’ve learned from experience, the PacMan doesn’t work on them.
I push in close for a series of Bando knees, kicks and elbows, but he counters each with a blocking strike. I hate Jeet Kun Do for that- the way of the intercepting fist. It might as well have been called punch them before they punch you. It’s fine when you’re you, but when you’re them, it can get frustrating, especially because these things aren’t bound by the same physical limitations as human beings. I counter with a Spetsnaz Systema-inspired series from the six body levers. It’s as much a battle of philosophies as it is a physical confrontation. Pressure points are useless, so I opt for a take-down before he can adjust techniques.
He lands on his back, unprepared for a change to Wing Chun and already in a wrist lock, and I punch his centerline at the level of the throat. There’s a hard crunch, but the damn thing doesn’t breath, so that isn’t enough. He breaks the wrist lock, spraining my hand in the process, but I roll with his throw, and give him a phoenix kick. He isn’t stupid enough to walk into it, but it keeps him at enough distance for me to land in a kiba stance.
It almost feels like a gentlemanly contest, like if one of us yelled out, “yame” we would bow and part ways. He trips me forward, and then the bastard tries to rabbit punch me; I move quickly enough that the punch only grazes my ear, but the intent behind it was enough, and it stings like hell.
He’s either getting antsy, or he’s narrowing my abilities down for a killing strike. I realize I’m out of time to be subtle, and maul him in the Fu-Jow Pai style. He’s completely caught off guard, and flies through the air. I pounce on him, and use his momentum against him. We land, and before he can counter, I claw at his throat. I burst through, and grab the tube inside his neck and rip it out of him. His eyes go dark.
Under his jaw is a version marking. He was a Morph39; I thought the government was still using the Morph38s. At least it wasn’t a steel warbot, or a titanium tankbot. The hard plastic skin and aluminum frame on the 39 is sturdy, but not invulnerable. And the processor and sensor array were still housed in the head, which is why disconnecting the neck wiring had killed it.
I tear off the chest plate. Like the earlier models, a single paper ballot rested inside the cavity. With a ballot in hand, the others let me pass into the polling place. Human attendants armed with submachine rifles opened the doors for me, scowling at the automatic combatants as they chased another voter by.
Large letters on the wall stated “in coactum veritas.” And honestly, I don’t give a damn about the candidates this year, I’m just voting on the referendum to decrease the number of martial-artbots guarding the polls. And for the school levy, because the children are our future.