Title: Mail Delivery
Author: Koi Lungfish
Disclaimer: Based on characters and situations from The Transformers (c) 1986 Hasbro, Ltd. Used without permission. Text (c) 2007, Koi Lung Fish Mark of Lung. All Rights Reserved.
Subject: Streetwise learns mail securty from Red Alert.
Continuity: G1 cartoon.

"What's so important about mail delivery?" Streetwise asked, leaning back against the wall of the Ark's main entrance.

"Any route by which a threat may possibly enter the base is a route that must be checkpointed," Red Alert replied, glancing around in a habitual local-area check. Streetwise had noticed Red Alert cycled his checks over a two-breem period, and was making an effort to copy the Security Director, but was finding the ceaseless vigilance hard to match. "All mail that arrives at the Ark is not only sourced from multiple unique points of origin around the Earth, but has been passed through the hands of any number of individuals. Even though a single item of mail may have originated from a harmless source, there is always the possibility that it has been intercepted by an enemy unit whilst in transit."

"Has Megatron ever tried to bomb the base?"

"Not yet," Red Alert replied, and then cocked his head, listening. Streetwise copied him, but heard nothing.

"What was it?" he asked as Red Alert returned to his normal stance.

"Just a tectonic rumble." Red Alert sighed. "A volcano. If I didn't know better - and sometimes I wonder if I do - I'd say Optimus Prime keeps us here just so I can have a nervous breakdown."

"Makes that much noise, does it?" Streetwise asked, making his own local-area check. He wasn't sure what Red Alert looked for just yet, but he'd always been a quick learner.

"It makes noise. It gives off electromagnetic signals that interfere with everything from the floor-buffers upwards, and it stinks."

"I hadn't noticed."

"I had." Red Alert checked the forest and road before them, then fixed his gaze on the road. "Delivery van in sight. Correct procedure is...?"

"Mark one incoming on security net, check defence grid operational status, time check, log to Teletran-1," Streetwise replied. This was his first time on mail reception and he wanted to get it right.

"Good," Red Alert said with a curt nod. "Now, observe and compare my actions with the procedure plan."

They advanced to a position perhaps ten paces in front of the Ark.

"Entry zone secured?" Streetwise asked, checking against the plan.

"No. Advance, local-area check, log status change from 'waiting' to 'receiving' with Teletran-1, then mark the entry zone secured."

"That's not on the plan," Streetwise said, doing as he was told.

"That's why you're observing me," Red Alert said in a rather dark tone.

The mail van pulled up half a dozen paces in front of them. Streetwise data-captured the vehicle, ID-collated and logged to Teletran-1 as it turned itself around so the back doors faced them.

Red Alert tutted to him over the radio. Remember to data-capture and ID-collate the driver, Streetwise.

Streetwise did as the driver climbed out of the vehicle, and Red Alert greeted him politely. Teletran-1 returned a match; the driver was the regular one.

Now, I'll scan the vehicle and driver, Red Alert ordered.

Streetwise felt the backwash as he did. I'm going to need to bring out the big scanner to do all that.

It's broken. You'll have to ask Perceptor to fix it.

Oh, so that's why you want me doing mail, so you can get the big scanner fixed.

Red Alert glanced suspiciously at him from the other side of his rocket launcher.

"I've got four bags and seven parcels for y'all today," the driver said, throwing the van doors open. It contained a higgledy-piggledy pile of mail sacks, and Streetwise waited politely, as per Red Alert's quiet nod, until the mailman had unloaded them all at their feet.

"Sign there, if you will," the driver said, holding up a clipboard for them. Red Alert glanced at it and leaned down to make his mark on the form. The driver looked at the shimmering print. "Never ceases to amaze me how pretty that looks. Anyhow, good day to y'all."

They waited until he'd gotten back into his vehicle and driven away before examining the mail.

"Doesn't that put us at risk of a proximity device?" Streetwise asked.

"We're at risk of a proximity device as soon as the van doors are opened, which is why we start by standing this far back and scanning before approaching," Red Alert replied, leaning over the parcels to examine them again.

"I thought you scanned them?"

"Humans can build explosive devices so low on the technological spectrum that they're almost invisible to even my scanners," Red Alert replied, cautiously running his fingers over the sacks.

"Didn't the risk analysis show that the mail vector was extremely low risk?"

"Prowl's risk analysis showed that," Red Alert sniffed. "Prowl also wrote the procedure plan."

"I noticed you weren't exactly sticking to it," Streetwise said dryly, mentally comparing the careful 'check, check, stand well back and check again' routine Red Alert was demonstrating to the 'check once, smile and deliver' routine Prowl had written up. "He's never been bombed?"

"Not by humans," Red Alert said, and his tone was distracted. "Streetwise, come and tell me what you think of this."

'This' was a parcel, tiny to Streetwise's perspective. It was cuboid, wrapped in brown paper and a bit ragged around the edges. "It looks harmless."

"Yes, but does it smell harmless?" Red Alert asked. "Does it feel harmless?"

Streetwise leaned over and examined it more closely, taking care not to touch it. "I'm picking up some very small electromagnetic responses, but my chemical sensors aren't as good as yours."

"Allow me to demonstrate," Red Alert said briskly, scooping up the rest of the mail in one hand and passing it to Streetwise. Hunkering down beside the parcel, Red Alert produced a fine blade from one fingertip and delicately sliced around the parcel, removing the brown paper wrapping. Then, edging back and motioning Streetwise to stand well clear, he reached out and very carefully lifted the lid of the box.

The explosion was sudden, loud and smoky. Streetwise jolted back in surprise, braking hard on the impulse to sound an alarm.

Red Alert stood up, wiping smoke and bits of debris from his fingers. "Perhaps now Prowl will take the mail security seriously."

"But that bomb was nowhere near powerful enough to harm one of us!" Streetwise protested.

Wordlessly, Red Alert held up the little bit of brown paper he'd removed.

The first line of the address read "Spike Witwicky, c/o The Autobots".

Author's notes & addenda:

Feedback always welcomed.