Ryan Leatigaga - "A Threat Lurks Within"

painting of artistic glasses and the first mission college literary journal

Techhaven: A Threat Lurks Within

by Ryan Leatigaga

After the bombs decorated the skies of all nations on Earth in 2112, whatever was left was suited to the harsh conditions. Techhaven was one of those nations affected the most by the assault.

Apartment complexes that housed many humans, cybernetically enhanced organisms, and robots are now storage facilities that contain crude weaponry and battle-hardened men and women. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see even children carry small guns and knives as a means of self-defense. While the nuclear assault was ravaging across the globe, a smaller threat was within the shadows-and it intended to rule over the remains of the wreckage with its metallic grasp.

Sightings of packs of metallic humanoids were spotted along the coast of what would become the Techhaven were spotted around the 2050s, with containment being successful.

American and Chinese forces quickly fought off the metallic men, who were dubbed “Silver-skins” by the former, and the remaining nine of those organisms proved to be too powerful to be destroyed with regular weaponry were sealed into a massive titanium container with lead padded in the interior, and submerged to the bottom of the Pacific ocean. With the threat neutralized, the two countries went back to their daily routines.

Years after the war, the container was found washed up upon the shore. Barriers were placed around the structure to prevent any humans or animals from getting in contact with the lead. Two massive robots can be seen overlooking the remains. One of the robots was a dark green monolith 98 feet tall, with two propellers converted into blades.

It had several military markings on the front of its body. It spoke to its friend. “This doesn’t look good. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever was in there was in there for a reason. Flintlock, can you find out what made those markings?” the robot said, pointing at the many claw marks and handprints adorning the black surface of the container. The robot who went by Flintlock was around the same size as the green one.

It was painted a maroon red and its wrists and ankles were covered in heat shields, like those on a muffler for a car. It wore aviator’s goggles that doubled as binoculars. Flintlock gestured at the green robot to step aside as it adjusted its eyepieces and scanned the wreckage. It covers its mouth in shock.

“D’you know what we’re dealing with here, Big Ups?” Flintlock said with a quavering tone. “It looks like there were nine more of those things-and from th’ looks of it, they weren’t those foot soldiers we’ve been fighting near the east.” 

Big Ups began to ponder at what his friend meant and came to a conclusion. 

“With a threat this bad, we’re gonna need all the help we can get. I’m going to see if I can get as many able-bodied men as possible to guard the city. You can handle the distribution of arms- after all, you are called the ‘merchant of death’ to some already with your weird experiments.” 

“I’ll ignore that last comment, but I can assure you that no soldier leaves this place unarmed!” Flintlock said, with a slight smirk. The plan was set into motion-at dawn tomorrow, all functional combat-based robots and all healthy young men and women will be sent out to defend the island from any Silver-skins surrounding the area.

A full sweep of the island would be performed with combat robots having a slight advantage due to having built in night vision. The creatures encountered will be frightened with the familiar sight and sound of a classic boomstick, as there is uncertainty to whether or not they can be killed. Big Ups then turned into a Chinook helicopter and flew back to the mainland, with Flintlock following suit. The entire fate of the island falls upon their hands.


Come morning, mail carriers were ordered to send pamphlets to every household on the Techhaven regarding the current situation. One of those recipients was a small green robot who was frequently seen with a top hat and a trench coat torn at the sleeves.

This robot’s name was Gyro, and he was very eager to participate in the upcoming conflict, even if his size might seem underwhelming to some. He was an introvert, only going out to complete certain jobs from clients, as he was originally a service bot back 60 years ago. He would spend his free time indulging in material from the past, such as books, prerecorded movies, and his favorite medium, video games.

Before Gyro could step outside, a little girl came up to him, her eyes red after crying. “Please help save my kitty!” Gyro was taken aback at this sudden request. “Uh… Yeah, I can do that. Show me where your cat’s at!” Gyro said.

Dragged by the little girl to a surprisingly big tree, Gyro could see and hear the cat meowing on top of a branch. “Watch the master in action!” Gyro bragged to the girl as he flexed his fingers and began to scale the tree. He was a few feet away from the cat, when suddenly it jumped onto a balcony nearby.

Slightly frustrated, he quickly scurried up the tree to that branch and leapt off it like a spring. The cat, after seeing this feat from what it believed to be a green leprechaun, jumped from that balcony to the rooftop, making Gyro quickly catch up to it. With hands out and ready to grab, Gyro lunged at the feline only for it to scurry away.

Gyro quickly looked down and yelled to the girl below “This might take a while! Sorry!” Afterwards, he locked onto the cat and began his pursuit. The chase was around three city blocks before the cat jumped off the edge of a building and landed into a pile of trash and had its right paw stuck in a bag. Gyro then fell onto that same pile of trash, taking advantage of that moment and both managed to get the cat unscathed and into his hands.

Moments later, the girl caught up with them, nearly out of breath. Gyro gave the squirming cat over to its owner. “Man, that thing’s quick. But at least it’s safe!” Gyro said, trying to find the silver lining to this situation. The girl got up close. Gyro was hoping she would say “thank you…”

 Until she hit him hard on the head. Hard on the head, as in ‘no child should hold this amount of strength’ kinds of hard.

“W-what was that for?!” Gyro quickly responded. 

“You made me nearly pass out from running so much, and you got my clothes dirty!” 

“Are you kidding me?! You didn’t say anything about the car having the athleticism of an Olympic sprinter!”

 “…I don’t even know what you said, but I’m gonna tell my mom on you, you giant booger!” 

“Get lost, fleabag! And your cat, too!” Gyro said as the girl angrily stomped away. 

Why didn’t he get any respect? Why couldn’t he have built a super cool military unit instead of a short service robot that one would see in retirement homes? Gyro dusted off his jacket and hurriedly ran to the area where the gathering was to take place, hoping that the line over there wouldn’t be that long.

Eager to put his skills to the test, he went to the address listed in the pamphlet and waited in the line formed outside of the former Palmer Stadium. Surely this won’t be that bad, right? Gyro thought. Just get a gun, go to battle and come back a hero, right? his inner voice said as his naivete began to show. He was unaware of the threat that loomed before him.

Gyro entered the room inside the stadium that was converted into a physical testing facility. Humans would have their body and mind tested to see if they can endure the battlefield. Testing for robots was quite similar, as they were taken apart to see if their motherboards, mainframes, and such were at least 80% intact.

Gyro passed the unbuilding stage. He was then taken to a combat exhibition room where robots could perform their abilities. Gyro demonstrated a sloppy form of martial art he had copied from a video game he had played the night before. Surprisingly, he passed and was asked to see Flintlock for arms distribution, when suddenly his path gets blocked by a massive military robot with its arms crossed in an intimidating pose. “Service bots are not allowed on the battlefield.” Boomed Big Ups. “Your mainframe will get turned into scrap in an instant. There are many opportunities for your kind outside combat. Get back to your daily routine.” He finished in a cold, but well-meaning tone. 

Gyro, angered at the rejection, began to speak. “What makes you think I’m gonna get destroyed? I’ve killed dozens- no, hundreds- of people with my CQC skills, and I’m not too shabby with a firearm either.” 

“You may have passed the physical, but your mindset about ‘killing people’ is unfit for someone like you. You know what we call people like you? People who have no life outside of fighting are called Battle Junkies. And I don’t allow Battle Junkies on my squadron. Now leave before you do something you might regret.” said the giant robot as he gripped his blade, anticipating an attack. Gyro, frustrated, realized that the giant bucket of bolts wouldn’t budge from his current position, and left the building. Looks like another day as a service bot. Maybe someday, he can be known for something much greater.

While he was walking back, he saw two well-built men with rifles strapped on their backs walking towards one of the gates leading outside the city. Great, just rub it in… Gyro pessimistically thought. Nothing a little eavesdropping can’t fix. The conversation was mostly pretty safe-work, family, and the like- until one of them started talking about some sightings near the forests outside Techhaven. 

“You seen them too?”

“Yeah, them things really creep me out. Look like something from a horror movie.”

“They look like they’re covered in tinfoil,  but they don’t play around. My dad nearly got mauled by one of ‘em a few days ago.”

“And if I’m correct, the guns we got don’t do much against them, huh?”

“They didn’t say to kill ‘em, just scare them off. ‘Mark our territory’, the big green fella said during training.”

 “ Not to sound dark, but they’re gonna be real disappointed when they see the body count come next mornin’ “

The two men then went past Gyro’s earshot and ventured off near the gate to the east. Maybe it was a good idea to stay home. After all, Gyro doesn’t take horror well. As unsatisfying being a service bot is, at least it pays the bills and he gets back in one piece.

As night began to shroud the island, Gyro can hear guns going off in the distance. These gunshots were close. Really close. He excused that as just drunks being a little too trigger-happy. The City Guard can handle that. That changed when he heard growling… and then screaming. Gyro frantically put on his trench coat and top hat and rushed to the scene. Three skinny men were shooting at the Silver-skins to little avail. Their skin made them nearly impenetrable. One man was screaming, clutching at his leg as blood was pouring out from the gash, limping from the monster with red across its teeth. Gyro rushes into action and shoves one of the monsters out of the way to tend to the man. “Give me your shirt and don’t move!” Gyro yelled at the wounded man. The man complied and gave Gyro his shirt. He then wrapped it around his deep cut in a make-shift bandage/tourniquet. He then helped the man up to his feet and gestured at the other two. “Get this guy somewhere safe! I’ll take them on!” The three men drop their weapons and immediately flee the scene. He picks up a small pistol and shoots at the monsters but hesitates after hearing what the other two men said earlier in the day. 

Gyro then analyzed his situation- three towering, thick-skinned zombies with slight regenerative properties and bullet resistance against a small green bot with little to no combat prowess  He then regrets his decision and runs from the three Silver-skins. He manages to lure them to a dark alley away from the people. In a corner, he spots two barrels with “DANGER: FLAMM.A.BLE M.A.TERIAL” written on them. He decides to use them to his advantage. As the Silver-skins came, he hid in the shadows and threw a rock towards the barrels. Good thing they aren’t smart. Thought Gyro as he carefully angled his gun, fired a shot towards the barrels, and- BOOOOOOOM!

The Silver-skins flew towards the wall across from them, screaming as the flames ravaged their bodies. The three of them fell one by one, like marshmellows. “I’d hate to find out what these things smell like.” Gyro thought out loud as the carcasses crackled in the still burning fire. All seemed quiet until he heard a step, step approaching his way. Gyro hides in the shadows once more. A giant red robot with horns probably as big as himself was coming this way. It looked at the corpses of the Silver-skins in shame. 

“I guess my soldiers died a cowardly death.” The being said. Gyro tried his hardest to not make himself visible, until a rat nearby moved a can in his spot. The red being looked at Gyro’s hiding spot as the green robot ran out of there.  

Gyro spoke to himself in a frightened tone. “This is too much for me! I’m starting to think not fighting was a good idea! Why’d I have to hear those gunshots?!” A red wave of energy struck the pile of trash beside him, dissipating into sparks. Gyro fell from the shock, face looking towards his aggressor.

The being had a sneer plastered onto its face. “Maybe you should have run away. That man would have died a warrior, but it seems that with your intermission, he will die some other day.” The being said in an ominous tone. 

“Who-what are you?” Gyro stammered.

 “I am one of the Celestial Warbots, carriers of power beyond your feeble processing capabilities. All you need to know is that I am Mars, and that I will dismantle you!” Mars finished as he swung his mighty red blade, a wave of energy coming from it. Gyro had no choice but to hope that he might take the hit-

That was, until a familiar dark green robot deflects the hit, sending the shockwave to the ground.

 “Wait, you’re-“ 

“You got some guts, little guy. I’d leave you to fight him yourself, but that ain’t in my programming.” Big Ups said, eyeing his new opponent. “Hey! You got a grudge against this guy or something? How about you try picking on someone your own size?” Mars turned to face Big Ups. 

“You mean that pathetic excuse of a warrior who only managed to kill three of my Silver-skins due to luck? I believe his head might make a good stand for my blade.”

 “If you’re gonna destroy him, you’re gonna have to face me first.” 

“Then come at me! Show me what the warriors of this island have to offer!” Mars gripped his massive sword in hand, with Big Ups following suit quickly after. Only one of them is going out unscathed.

Mars leaps at his opponent, brandishing his sword, Judecca, in hand. Big Ups blocks the hit with his equally massive propeller blade. He then carefully analyzed Mars’ patterns as he effortlessly blocked each of his strikes. Big Ups then got ready for Mars’ next attack and countered the blow with a pommel strike to Mars’ jaw. Now with Big Ups having the advantage, he swung his gargantuan blade in a downwards strike at the menace and made him plummet to the ground. Mars propped himself up on Judecca and retorted, “Is that what the so-called ‘Stalwart Swordsman’ has to offer?! That was children’s play compared to what comes next!” He was harnessing energy in his blade for another strike.

Gyro was watching all of this unfold. He couldn’t just stand there and do nothing! He thought to himself. Hold on. This guy’s wide open. I have one bullet left. Gyro gripped on the gun and aimed it at its target. Come on, hope this works! Were his last thoughts before pulling the trigger. The bullet then hit its target-directly in Mars’ left eye!

Mars staggered back in shock and in pain, deactivating his energy wave attack, but still clinging onto his blade. He clutched his right hand over his now shattered eye. “That little-how dare he reduce me to such a pitiful state!” Big Ups smirked once at Gyro, then at Mars. “Let me be the one to send you to the scrap heap.” Big Ups’ second propeller blade drew itself from its sheath and attached onto his right leg. It then spun rapidly, generating enough wind to fling Gyro back several feet, leading him to cling on a sign. 

“Are you trying to kill me too?!” Gyro screamed. 

Big Ups looked back at his new partner reassuring him. “Nonsense. This is just business for me. Turbine Strike, First Stage!” 

The wind then gathered to the blade in his hand as he formed it into a shockwave and sent it directly into Mars’ path. It made contact and exploded into sparks as it struck important circuitry in his body. Mars screamed as the sparks eventually turned into an explosion, decimating the Warbot.

Big Ups then slid both swords into his sheathes. He transformed into his Chinook helicopter form and carried Gyro inside him. 

“You handled yourself out there pretty well, honestly. Not exactly proper, but you lasted longer than I thought.” 

“I’m surprised too, honestly. You think I could work for you guys now?” Gyro beckoned, his tone shifting into that of optimism. 

“Yeah, but not as a soldier. Maybe a test subject for my pal in his lab, but definitely not a soldier.” Big Ups replied. 

He landed on the helipad and further helped him inside the building. It appeared to be a high school at some point, because what would have been the gym was instead a makeshift hospital, with cots lined up and spaced out evenly, separated by curtains. The place was rampant with nurses scurrying to attend to the wounded, and with more and more wounded coming in each passing minute, it was going to be a long night for those poor medics. One of the advantages of being a robot is not being able to smell, because the air in that area was a mix between the metallic odor of blood and the stinging scent left by the chemicals from medical supplies, such as rubbing alcohol.

“Repair bay’s that way. After that, go meet the scientist Flintlock down the hall. Tell him I sent you there. I’m gonna be nice and tell you not to get in my way. You’re lucky I gave you a compliment.” He said sternly. 

A military official then came up to the swordsman and said words that Gyro couldn’t figure out. He knew they were important as Big Ups turned back into a helicopter and flew away into the night.

He wasn’t that badly injured- the medic bot was actually impressed that Gyro managed to endure an attack of that caliber. He just needed some bumps popped out on his arms and legs, and he was good to go. When he left the repair bay, he was met with the man he saved earlier. “You’re ok! I’m so glad you’re ok!” Gyro stammered in relief. Alongside him, he spotted a familiar looking girl and cat, who immediately pointed him out. Immediately the girl ran up to Gyro and wrapped her arms around him. 

“Th-thank you for...for…” she couldn’t finish her sentence as she began to cry harder. Gyro picked her up and placed next to her father. “You really had some guts out there, lil’ guy. Didn’t know you had some skill using a gun.  I couldn’t have seen my lil’ girl without you.” the man said, with a little smile. Gyro put his hand on the girl’s shoulder, still sniffling. 

“Hey, I’m really sorry about earlier. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was in a pretty bad mood. Do you accept my apology? 

“I gotta say sorry too! I was angry that papa had to go fight the bad silver people, and when he left that morning, Shavo here ran up the tree, and I’m really sorry that I got angry at you too, uh.. Uh… What’s your name?” the girl asked.

“You can call me Gyro, kid. I gotta go, and I’m pretty sure you and your dad gotta go home, too.” Gyro told the girl before he was stopped by her father. 

“Before you go, take this card. Name’s Claudio. I run a lil’ mechanic place in town. I’m giving you a 30% discount. You don’t need to return the favor.” Claudio said before turning his head to his daughter. “Bein’ able to see my girl Amy is good enough. Let’s go home.” the man said as he held his daughter’s hand as the two walked towards the exit.

Gyro walked off and said his farewells to Claudio and his daughter, Amy before staring intently at the path leading up to the supposedly eccentric scientist Flintlock. What will become of the former servant turned soldier? All of that can only be answered by seeing what’s behind that door.

He looked back at Amy and her father as her face looked completely different from the angry young women he encountered this morning. Instead, a smile was plastered on her face. A world where no one has to cry anymore… that sounds nice. Thought Gyro as he further encroached the domain of the mad scientist.

As the remains of Mars, the Celestial Warbot turned scrap pile, was still smouldering, a shadowy figure emerged from a back alley. It was roughly human shaped, draped within a black hood as one red eye in the middle of its face broke the darkness of its form. It cradled Mars’ head. “You have been slain by the green one and his companion… All automatons can be repaired, no matter the cost.

You died a coward’s death… I can see from your twisted visage.” the being hissed, as Mars’ head was permanently twisted into a sign of pain at the hands of Big Ups. “You will serve a bigger purpose soon..”

The figure then leaves the rest of Mars’ remains and vanishes into the same alley in which he came, like it never even existed.

About the Author

Ryan Leatigaga is majoring in Graphic Design at Mission College. Ryan says, "When I was four, me, my mom, my sister, and my then unborn little brother were in a car crash which left me without a right arm due to having it be amputated. I had trouble writing and drawing, but it was nothing compared to my imagination.

When I was in the fifth grade, I wrote a story about squids chasing a bus and that got the attention of a sort of writing contest by my future high school. I have since then not only been improving my writing, but also improving my drawing as well in the last three years. My ultimate goal is to get a job as either a scriptwriter or a storyboard artist for a cartoon one day and even make my own animated series!"