Chapter One: The Scars of War Each faction had its own individual who was the best of the best. Among the Lycans, that individual was a soldier named Ethan Ketra. He was slightly muscular, 5’ 11” and had silver hair that reached the base of his neck. Even at the physical age of nineteen, no Lycan dared question his ability to get the job done. Ketra is a veteran of 150 years and thousands of battles with the Vampire covens. He sat on the bench of his garage with his Decepticon partner, Barricade. His nights in the garage were often spent with Barricade in an awkward silence. Usually driven by Ethan’s distrust of machines since Starscream destroyed his hometown of Little Nome, this time it was caused by his unusual sense of guilt for what he did during the last mission. He had never watched an Autobot long enough to see their spark extinguish after he strikes them down. This time, he was unfortunate enough to watch. Her name was Arcee. She was the size of a full grown human and was no challenge for the young lycan. He remembered her dying words. “You don’t have to do this”. But he was following orders when he drove his knife deep into her spark chamber. He stood transfixed as the shots rang out, staring at her spark as it began to fade. Once the light had died, Arcee was gone. Lucien dragged him back to base after the Lycans and Decepticons had taken the city. That was over 3 hours ago, but it still burned in Ketra’s mind. Now, Barricade tried to break the silence. “You know I can’t comment on what you saw, but what you witnessed is a Decepticons reason to live.” The mustang said. A Decepticons reason to live? I’m nothing like them. Ketra thought. “It changes you to watch a spark extinguish.” It changes you? It definitely changed me. “Throughout my service, I’ve always regretted killing for anything but food. But watching an individual’s life force leave them was what filled me with guilt.” Ketra was furious by this time and stormed out of the garage to head to the Tactical Combat Training, or TCT, room. He did this after each mission to hone his skills. Lucien had always told him he had to be “faster, stronger, and more accurate.” This time, he needed to blow off some steam. On his way, he passed Raze, who greeted Ketra with compliments for his first recorded Autobot kill. “Heard how you iced Arcee. I should’ve been there.” He said. “If you were there, it would have been easier. You need to be where we want you when we want you.” Ketra snarled. Raze backed off slowly then ran, his trench coat flowing in the draft. Why do I even bother? The base wasn’t very large, but the Lycans certainly benefitted from the Cybertronian technology. The airborne Decepticons had a specialized runway above ground, but Starscream was the only one who ever used it. Starscream, Grindor, and Megatron were the only ones who could fly, so the runway was almost perfectly useless. Ever since its acquisition, Ketra had gotten lost in this base three times. My first Autobot kill. I can’t take it anymore. I have to get out of here. I wonder if NEST would take me in. Ketra thought about leaving for at least a week now, but he knew Lucien and Megatron would stop at nothing to get him back. After 15 minutes of wandering through the base, he made it to the TCT room. He took out two Heckler & Koch MP7s and folded in the stocks. For training, he used a cartridge loaded with cells that fire off transphasic energy that damages the solid-matter holograms. The cells fire off their charge, and are discarded by the weapons like normal bullet casings. As accurate as he was with his SMGs, no lycan was permitted to use UV rounds outside of combat with the vampires. Ketra knew why. The materials for producing these rounds were extremely rare on earth and only the Decepticons knew how to synthesize them. The success rate is limited as the Constructicons were semi-retired. Enemy holograms appeared at random spots in the room. Speed was Ethan’s most prominent weapon. He was the only lycan fast enough to run across walls in human form. This is what he would do first. He leapt and the wall and ran along its surface. He opened fire at the enemy holos and destroyed them. Two enemy holos approached from behind. Ethan quickly turned and opened fire. Both holos were destroyed. These were the last of the enemies he would fight. Ketra had to be ready at all times. He had specialized combat armor like the rest of Lucian’s elite soldiers. His armor was equipped with Cybertronian offensive technologies. He needed to work on it to make sure it still did its job. The Autobots haven’t made a move in weeks, but he was better safe than sorry. He never knew when the Autobots would try to reclaim the city. His armor consisted of a Flak Jacket with internal Kevlar plating and a special bullet-proof fabric composed of threads of carbon nano-tubes. The back had Barricade’s police emblem and the Decepticon symbol was embroidered on the right side of the chest. The shoulder pads covered his upper arms and snapped to his flak jacket. The true marvels of technology were the boots and forearm guards. The boots were made of pure steel and housed retracting wheels and jump thrusters. The forearm guards housed retracting blades made of the same material at the heart of each UV round. This ensured instant vampire kills. Each piece had to be attached one at a time. After his armor was put on, He went back to the garage to see Barricade looking through his bookshelf. He noticed that Ketra had a large collection of werewolf literature. Some of the mythology in his possession came from over 150 years ago. “DON’T TOUCH THOSE!!!!!!!!!” Ketra yelled. Barricade stopped what he was doing and Ethan’s copy of Frostbite by David Wellington fell out. “I’m sorry.” Barricade said sincerely. “It’s okay. I just lost my head.” Ethan picked up his book and put it back in the shelf. “You’ve got some pretty old stuff here. Is there a reason for all this?” asked the huge Decepticon. “Back then, I wanted to know what had attacked me. I became scared when I read that I would become like them, but I’ve come to accept this ‘curse’” said Ketra. Out of nowhere, the incursion alarm sounded once again. Barricade quickly transformed into his Saleen Mustang altmode. He opened his driver door and Ketra jumped in. “The Autobots are making a move to take back the 8th district. Megatron and Starscream are moving in quickly and Grindor just got out of the hangar.” After this mini briefing, Barricade drove right out. Ketra took control and proceeded to the 8th district. They had only sent three Autobots. Ketra identified them as Bumblebee, Ironhide, and Ratchet. Ketra leapt out of Barricade before the Saleen fully transformed. Megatron descended quickly and tried to drive his sword through Ironhides head, but the Autobot moved in time to avoid impalement and fired off a few rounds from his pulse cannon. Megatron dodged and came at full force, but Lennox fired of a concussion grenade from his launcher, sending Megatron to the ground. Lucien leapt into combat with Starscream and went after Lennox. Lucien was knocked down by a soldier with Poleepkwa plating covering his chest, back, arms, and lower legs. The half-breed clocked Lucien in the face. Lucien got back up and threw the alien half-breed into one of the buildings. “Better luck next time, Fairway.” He said. Fairway, the half-breed, entered his wolf form. His legs became digigrade and fur covered all that the plates did not. His head became that of a wolf and he leapt out into battle after Lucien. Fairway’s wrist-blades extended and Lucien’s sword was deployed. They engaged in a sword battle that went on until Lucien collapsed from fatigue. Ketra quickly engaged Fairway, but the Lycan found himself losing to the half-breed. Before long, he fell. This was the first time he was ever beaten in combat. The ensuing chaos was what Starscream needed to get away. As he flew off, Breakaway flew with the moon to his back. His pilot, a hybrid soldier, leapt out and used his bladed wigs to attach to Starscreams underbelly. “Get off me, hybrid filth.” Starscream shouted. Before the F-22 transformed, the unnamed soldier took a grenade off of his vest and threw it into Starscreams intake. He leapt off and flew toward Breakaway and got in. As Starscream began to transform, the grenade exploded and disabled his engines. Starscream couldn’t hover, so he fell quickly to the ground. Barricade looked on the carnage. Nothing was right. He leapt after Ratchet flailing his weapon. Ratchet shot round after round from his machine gun, but nothing would stop the 20-odd tons of confused Decepticon that was running towards him. Bumblebee dashed quickly and knocked Barricade to the ground, toppling a radio tower in the process. Ratchet got back up. “Thanks, Bee.” He said. Ironhide was locked in combat with Grindor. The MH-53 transformed and bombarded the area. Breakaway and his Hybrid partner went after Grindor. Breakaway turned to his side and sped on at full afterburner. His wings cut through the rotors as they turned. Grindor transformed and fell to the ground. Before Lucien could be subdued, he escaped with Starscream back to the Decepticon HQ. All other forces were brought back to the HQ. In his garage, Ketra stood with Barricade as a broken man.

Chapter 2: Haven among the enemy The Autobots and NEST were getting bolder. Nobody could deny this. The Lycans defeat at the 8th district in Mission City was proof of this. Lucian’s top lieutenants and Megatron held a strategy meeting in the late night to determine the cause of the defeat. Ketra stood by the door, listening closely. His ears were those of a wolf as he listened. Megatron was the first to speak. “You have failed, Lucian. We allied with you to get even, but the Autobots have fought back stronger. My best soldiers are in repair bay.” Lucian quickly snapped back, “If your soldiers were prepared, they would still be fully operational.” “Speaking of operational, Barricade suffered from combat rage. If unchecked, it could destroy his core processor.” Raze added. Megatron sneered to himself. “We’ll have to melt him down for parts.” Lucian stared up at Megatron. “Ketra has also lost his edge. Any suggestions?” Megatron laughed. “that sword of yours is pure sterling silver. You should figure it out.” Ketra was horrified. He ran back to his room and tried to pack all he could into a duffel bag. His armor, his MP7s and some grenades were all packed. He put on his Jeans, his Timeless Miracle t-shirt, and his trenchcoat, which still had the police badge the mimicked Barricades police emblem. Barricade didn’t know what was going on, but he knew Ketra had to get out. “What’s the Hurry?” Barricade asked “They want to kill me because I lost in combat to a half-breed. The think you have Combat Rage and want to melt you down.” Barricade transformed without saying a word. Ketra loaded his bag and got in. They drove off trying to make sense of it all. Hours of thought were useless. Barricade just put the Howard Stern show on his radio. The new guy, Wikus the Prawn, was arguing with Howard and Robyn about the random damages and destroyed buildings in Shanghai, Johannesburg, and Mission City. He knows that something was going down and that he was familiar with being left in the dark by governments and corporations. Ketra shut it off and continued in silence. One question lingered in his mind. “What happened out there? You never rush like that.” “I was confused. I didn’t think I was doing the right thing. I’ve realized that your kind and ours are similar and that if we protect you, maybe organics aren’t so bad. I think a logical paradox occurred. I just want to know where we’re going.” “I need to get to Nome. It’s probably the only place Lucian won’t look for us.” “A viroid was uploaded into NEST’s communication systems. I’m scanning for any Operations in Nome.” After seconds, Barricade had the results. “NEST is sending Ratchet and some human female to Nome to see if the reported escaped Poleepkwa survived Starscreams attack.” “Any info on this human?” Ketra asked “She must be new, she doesn’t have a file.” Barricade replied. “Why a sudden interest in the Poleepkwa?” “The files don’t say anything. Wolfen might be looking for them just to make sure they’re okay. Poleepkwa are a lot tougher than humans.” By the time the conversation had ended, they arrived at the terminal. Ketra got out and Barricade shut the door. “Look for a cargo plane with either Autobot or NEST symbols. I’ll see if I can find this human and convince her to take us along.” Barricade searched the tarmac and finally entered the plane. Ketra ran through the airport terminal looking for this female. He had Ratchets scent, so he just had to find a human with that scent coming from them. He knew she had gone through security already and got through as well. Just before the exit to the Tarmac is where he saw her. She looked about 18. Her eyes were a shade of emerald green and her hair was silver and only went down to her shoulders. Her jacket and was yellow and had Ratchets Search and Rescue emblem on the back and the sleeves had red stripes that looked like the heart rate pattern. Her pants were yellow and had straight red stripes going down. Ketra quickly approached her and tapped her on the shoulder. She jumped and turned around. “Who are you?” she asked upon catching her breath. She spoke with a moderate Romanian accent. “It’s awfully late to be flying. What’s the rush?” Ketra asked, sounding as concerned as he could. “I’m working with Wolfen Aerospace Industries. Do you know about them?” She seemed to have a good cover story. Ketra would have to be careful. “I know their efforts shut down MNU and fully integrated the Poleepkwa into our society.” “I’m going into Nome. It was destroyed by a rogue F-22 pilot. Some of the Poleepkwa that escaped from District 9 lived there.” “By the looks of that jacket, you’re going to try to save them. You need to be careful. Only the hospital, church, and a few houses still stand. Any human survivors will take you down for the medicine you have.” “This coming from a Cop.” “I’ve been there before. You need an escort.” Ketra insisted. “Are you armed?” she asked. He pulled open his trenchcoat, revealing one of his MP7s and six grenades. “To the teeth.” Ketra responded. “Nice piece. Is that a Barreta?” “Heckler & Koch MP7. I always preferred them for the rate and the light weight.” Ketra answered. “You must have put your car in my plane already. I guess you’re right, though. Follow me.” The girl walked out onto the tarmac. Most of the light came from the full moon. Ketra knew how to fight the change. It was easy for him. “What’s your name, by the way?” She asked “Ethan Ketra.” “My name’s Alira Fairway.” The rest of the walk was completed in silence. As they rounded the corner to the plane, Alira saw Ketra’s ride. She froze up upon seeing it. It had to be a coincidence, though, as Barricade was clearly not here given the lack of an energon radiation signature. Either that or the lycans found a way to mask such things from Autobot scanners. She stood there breathing heavily until Ketra snapped her back to reality. “You coming or not?” “Yeah.” She walked inside the plane following Ketra closely. Ketra noticed Ratchet in his altmode. “I take it you only carry Poleepkwa medicines.” Ketra said. “I carry some human medicines, but not nearly enough for 297 human survivors.” Alira said with a degree of sadness. The pilot of the cargo plane quickly came out to make sure everyone was present. Ketra recognized him immediately. He was dressed in full body armor with IDF and IAF patches. He had short silver hair and yellow eyes. He was about 5’11 and had a lean build. This was the hybrid that threw the grenade into Starscreams intake. “Who’s this guy? I thought you were supposed to come alone.” said the pilot rater sternly. “He’s a cop from Nome. He’s my armed escort.” Alira said. The pilot stood in awe but snapped back to reality. “My name’s John Ledra.” “Ethan Ketra. I’ve already acquainted myself with Ms. Fairway.” He nodded toward Alira. Alira smiled widely.

	“Well, settle in somewhere and get ready to take off.”

With that, John got to the cockpit and sent the plane into the stratosphere. The flight was long and uneventful. Alira would often try to get the Howard Stern show on Barricades radio, and get Ethan to help her out. After 2 hours, the plane landed at the Nome municipal airfield. John got inside of Ratchet with Alira riding shotgun. Ketra and Barricade rolled out onto the tarmac and left to save the Poleepkwa. Their sirens blared, piercing the moonlit sky with their sound. The area was not radioactive, but it was freezing cold. Ketra was determined now to save the Poleepkwa. They were cold-blooded. They wouldn’t last long. Chapter 3: Nome After Dark. The cop car and ambulance created quite a scene. Ten human survivors clad in armor made of garbage and scrap metal came shambling out. At the head of the group, trying to stop their advance, was a Wolfen Aerospace Fafnir assault mech, a modified version of the Poleepkwa powersuit designed with a lupine appearance meant to instill fear in the enemy. It stood just under 12 feet tall. The “convoy” came to a stop and exited their vehicles. The mech stood back, ready to kill the survivors in case anything got out of hand. Ketra took out his MP7 and had it ready. One of the survivors came forward. “You have to help me. I was attacked by some crazy animal. I don’t feel very good.” Alira looked shocked. The survivor was clutching the bite wound. “Let me see the wound.” Alira ordered. The survivor removed his garbage armor and Alira could see the wound. It was consistent with a lycans bite. “Do you have any unusual feelings?” “It feels like something’s… growing inside me. Like there’s something ready to tear through my flesh.” Said the survivor. He was obviously in pain. “There’s nothing I can do for you. I’m sorry.” Alira said. The survivor had a heavy pain shoot through him. “What’s happening to me!!!?” he shouted. The other survivors had the same experience. They were turning. Their armor was strained against their bodies and snapped off. Faces stretched out into muzzles. Fur covered their bodies, leg structure changed and sanity was stripped away. Ketra was in the worst place to be. He fired as many shots at them as he could. He downed three. Ledra ran in head on, his talon-tipped wings out and ready. He took out 6 of them with his wings. Just as the last lycan was about to bite Alira, Ketra turned and knocked the last one to the ground. In the wrestling match that followed, Ketra, still clad in his clothes, shoved his opponent into the air, where he exploded after a solid hit from the mechs Arc Gun. Ketra quickly shifted back to his human form. Nobody saw him in his wolven state. “Ethan, help me.” Alira was clutching her side. Her jacket was off and she was bleeding profusely. To Ketra’s relief, she was only scratched. She was close to passing out. She had to get to a hospital. Ketra needed to get here there fast. Barricade had much more horsepower. “John, Load her in my car. My ride’s faster.” John complied and loaded her up. Ketra got in and sped off to the Hospital. They made it just in time. She was in a lot of pain, but was almost unconscious. “Don’t worry.” Ketra said to her. He didn’t think she could hear him. He picked her up and walked her into the Hospital. As soon as he got in, he had to ensure she would get treatment. What did I do last time? Ketra thought. He quickly shouted, “Emergency. I’ve got a bear victim!” The doctors came and rushed her to surgery. Ketra oversaw her treatment. She appeared to be okay, but they had to get out of Nome. After hours in surgery, she came out with bandages on her side. They weren’t visible beneath her tank top, but the strap was. “Are you okay?” Ketra asked. “I’m fine. It’s just a scratch.” Alira said. Her phone rang. She set it to Speaker. “Alira here.” “Alira, it’s Ledra. I’ve got some good news.” Ketra heard everything. “Ketra here. What’s going on?” “Hey, Ethan. Well, of the 62 Poleepkwa that escaped from MNU, only 2 died. 9 of them received minor injuries.” Ledra answered. Ketra was happy to some extent. Alira was almost ecstatic. “That’s great. Give me your location.” Alira said. Still connected, Ledra’s location was shown on her navigational system in the phone. “Got it. We can be there in ten minutes.” Suddenly, Ketra got the sense that somebody was listening in. He caught a scent that he had smelled before. Whatever it was, it reeked of fresh energon. Megatron had mentioned once that the sun of a planet called Calastan had been successfully harvested. Ketra dismissed it as Barricade just venting excess energon gas. Only lycans could detect it as they’ve been around it for so long. He was blissfully unaware of a Decepticon lurking in the shadows. He and Alira walked out and got into Ketra’s “Mustang”. They took a few minutes before heading off. They were indeed being watched. The Decepticon in question had a very Lupine appearance. He hovered in the air and alerted Megatron that Ketra had been found. “Megatron, this is Cyclonus. I’ve found them. I’m beginning pursuit.” Cyclonus spoke with a thick Russian accent. With that, Cyclonus quickly transformed into his altmode. He became an SU-47 Berkut fighter. Under his left wing were the bold white letters MNU. His right wing had no markings except the Decepticon emblem. He tried to stay as slow as he could. He didn’t want to be detected. In the cockpit was Lucian, with no armor. Only his brown trench coat, clawed up shirt, and paramilitary camos were worn. I have you now. Lucian thought. In ten minutes, Ketra and Alira met with Ledra to treat the surviving Poleepkwa who had injuries. Cyclonus stealthily descended behind the forest growth. Lucien got out before Cyclonus transformed. The treatments went smoothly enough. A few cracked plates and cuts in the skin beneath, and the occasional broken leg. Ratchet was hooked up to a trailer loaded with clothing tailored for Poleepkwa. After the treatments, the Poleepkwa were given warm clothing to keep them alive in the harsh Alaskan winter. “That’s the last of them.” Alira said. In the sky above them, the Aurora Borealis shone in the night. “Alira, look. It’s the Aurora.” Ethan said. Alira quickly looked up. She watched it wave and flicker. “It’s beautiful.” She said. Ketra’s hand moved tentatively close to Alira’s. Alira returned the Favor. Their hands were interlocked. They looked down at each other and took their hands apart from one another. Ketra decided to take Barricade and go somewhere more private. Alira was left behind. They drove through the woods until such a spot was found. Ketra exited Barricade and leaned against him. “Just admit that you love her.” Barricade said. “I can’t do it so soon. I have to wait for the right time.” Ketra replied. “You were holding hands. Isn’t that a sign of this love thing in you organics?” “I can’t believe I’m taking love advice from a Decepticon. Let’s head back.” Ketra answered. Suddenly, He heard a scream in the distance. It was Alira. A howl accompanied it. Ketra ran as Barricade followed him in vehicle mode. Alira was being held down by Cyclonus. Ledra was busy against Lucian. “Ethan, Help.” Lucien knocked Ledra to the ground and proceeded to finally get his teeth on Alira. Ethan wanted be anywhere but here. He quickly turned. His legs shifting to a lupine form, fur covered his body, face stretched out, ears changed shape and position, and claws burst forth from his fingertips. Alira saw it all. Ethan leapt after Lucian and wrestled him to the ground. Lucian pushed him back up and got on his feet again. Ethan slashed Lucian in the face. His blood dripped onto the ground. Cyclonus couldn’t step in, he only fought after he learned his opponents technique. As Lucian wiped off the blood, Ketra leapt toward him with his mouth wide open. Lucian dodged and Ethan quickly sank his teeth into Aliras shoulder. His hands grabbed her as Cyclonus released her. Ethan regained his composure and let her go, releasing his teeth and returning to human form. It’s been 50 years since he last tasted human blood. Alira was in pain. She saw the Lycan clad in Ethan’s clothing with its coat and shirt drenched in blood… her blood. She had a genuine look of shock on her face. Her blood drenched her shirt. “No…” she said softly. “Alira, it’s not what it looks like.” Ethan said frantically, her blood still staining his teeth and dripping from his mouth. He quickly wiped it up. As a gesture of submission among lycans, he hung his head in shame. “How is it not what it looks like? I watched you turn. Sure, you showed Lucian he wasn’t as good as he thought, but you… bit me. Is there anything else you’re hiding?” Almost on cue, Barricade quickly transformed into his robot form and stood before Alira. “Yes. Me.” he said. Alira couldn’t take it anymore. Ratchet transformed to robot mode. “Barricade? I thought you died.” Alira stepped in. “I thought I could trust you, Ethan. I guess I was wrong.” Alira clutched the bite wound. Ethan moved closer. Alira backed away quickly. “Don’t come any closer! You’ve done enough damage!” “Alira, listen” said Ethan “I didn’t plan for any of this. I just wanted to defect to NEST and Barricade wanted to come and leave the Decepticons behind.” “A likely story. It seems more reasonable to assume that this Lycan wanted to defect to infiltrate NEST and assassinate our chain of command.” Ratchet pointed out. Alira grew increasingly hurt. The pain was unbearable. John got off the ground and tended to Alira’s wound. He managed to stop the bleeding, but the venom from Ethan’s bite was already coursing through her system. John bandaged the wound and let Alira back to her feet. “We really need to get back to the airbase. If we leave now, it’ll be morning there when we arrive.” John said. “What about Ketra and Barricade? We can’t leave them here.” said Ratchet. He knew the strategic value of having Lucians best soldier as a prisoner and keeping Barricade under lock and key. John had answers to almost all of Ratchet’s questions. “We’ll take them with us. Barricade will face the judgment of Optimus Prime.” Alira jumped back in. “What about Ketra. Who will decide his fate?” she asked. Ratchet had the answer. “Selene will determine his intentions. If he is telling the truth, he can stay. Otherwise, Corvin will put him down like the dog we see him to be.” Ketra cooperated and Barricade took him back to the municipal airfield where they would leave for the NEST base. Barricade and Ratchet transformed into their alternate modes and got into the plane. Ledra walked up to the cockpit. Ketra and Alira boarded next. The bite wound was acting up again. Ethan handed her a flask. “Drink this. It helps with the pain.” Alira took the flask and took a sip. Almost instantly, the pain went away. “Thanks. What is this?” she said. Her voice was still soft from weakness and the emotional pain. “Wolfsbane tea. My mother used to make it for me when I was sick.” Ethan explained. Once everyone was loaded up, the cargo jet took off for the airbase. Alira knew all too well that she had seen the last of her humanity. This was only the first full moon of the month. She would turn tomorrow night. She couldn’t help but think Lucian did this intentionally to ensure that NEST would be destroyed from within by a lycan with no control. Alira was scared. She started to cry. She took another sip of Ethan’s tea. “At this rate, I’ll lose it all.” “Don’t worry. Selene grows the stuff. She actually has way too much of it. Thinks it keeps the Lycans away, but I don’t believe it.” Alira said. Alira chuckled a little. She was still weak from the blood loss. The plane was nearing the NEST airbase and was beginning its descent.