It's a busy day along the Ecuador-Orbit Elevator, as usual. The next scheduled downtime for maintenance is over two weeks from now, and even with the new tolls the legislature is charging, business is still booming.
It is indeed. Which is why an unmarked crate which wasn't on the manifest is especially surprising. As soon as it gets reported to her, she gets in touch with her counterpart at the orbital end.
Crates not on the manifest probably mean that a customer's crate did not get on the elevator. What's on the manifest that never made it to the ground?
Looks like a bunch of qubit reservoirs.
Well, those are only some of the most valuable items that get transported. Nothing important, really. She puts out a notice and sends someone to go see if the reservoirs just got moved around in the warehouse.
So, what's in this box? Did the people handling it notice anything suspicious? They've isolated it from the other items in the warehouse, in case it's full of explosives or something, right?
If by "isolated from other items in the warehouse" Elodia means "awkwardly left near someone's workstation despite this blocking a minor path, instead of being shelved", then yes, the unmarked crate has been isolated from other items in the warehouse.
That actually isn't what she meant by "isolated from other items in the warehouse" at all! She goes to grab a cart and move the crate back outside.
As she approaches the door, the crate shakes a bit before opening itself.
...and a bunch of robots fall out. They look fairly unfinished and obsolete and have the aesthetics of cheap toys. At least a third of them land on their backs and remain immobile. They have some LEDs on them that are blinking weirdly.
Well, at least they aren't broadcasting anything. The blinking lights, now that she looks more closely, look like one of the few early-stage infohazard attempts judged to be so safe that documentary-makers could legally show full-quality videos of them.
She's still not sure what's going on, but "amateur would-be sabotage attempt of some kind" seems like a good explanation. She can call in a cleanup crew, go through some quick (if still frustrating) automated screening, and then get back to work.
Elodia is indeed clean. She has a mildly more favorable opinion of vomit-green circuitboard than typical, but that's more than compensated for by her annoyance with the things for wasting at least an hour of a busy shift. She'll be completely back to normal within the day.
Their safety margin is completely gone and everyone's going to need to work quickly to make sure the next outgoing shipment is organized and ready on time.
Which they do. After that, the day is thankfully uneventful.