Nalon is the first to react, slapping an energy ball into his cesta as he assesses the situation. Cut off the head and the beast usually dies, he thinks as he lobs the ball at Ganga Lor.
The Chevan dives to the side just in time to avoid taking the full force of the blast, but it still explodes with satisfying force against his side. He shoves his way between two of his thugs and retreats to the back of the room, where he shouts encouragement and threats to his party.
As the others find cover and trade shots with Ganga's men, Jebet creeps swiftly behind the row of crates toward the back of the room to where Ganga is hiding. Her hand slips into a deep inner pocket, and moments later, the blue blade of a lightsaber illuminates the dim alley.
Meanwhile, Ganga Lor's thugs are faring badly. Path downs one with a well-aimed shot. Beejax dodges a blast and takes out the shooter in return, while Nalon catches one full in the chest with an energy ball. Even the Twi'lek bodyguard--seemingly the only one of Switch's guards who can aim--gets in a solid hit. Seeing his enforcers cut down so easily, Ganga pops up from his hiding spot behind a crate. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he shouts, "Blue shadow special! Blue shadow special!"
Immediately, Switch's guards, with the exception of the Twi'lek, turn their guns on their former allies. Caught by surprise, Nalon and Beejax are both hit before they have a chance to react. Indignant squawking sounds issue from under the desk as Switch realizes what is happening.
A blaster bolt screams past Jebet's ear from behind, and she whips around to see one of Switch's guards with a pistol. Memories crowd in upon her of clone troopers cutting down their former friends, Jedi falling without knowing why they had been betrayed ... Her lightsaber strikes with lightning speed, and the guard falls dead to the floor.
The others by now have recovered from their surprise. Path and Rima shift around to shoot from better cover behind piles of crates. Beejax fires at a thug and then ducks behind the japor ivory wood desk. He finds himself face to face with Switch, who looks as angry as a droid with an immovable face can look.
"I find myself in sudden need of a new set of more competent guards," Switch remarks.
Most of Ganga Lor's original thugs are down by this point. Realizing they are outmatched, the traitor guards start to run for the door, firing wildly as they retreat. Nalon collapses with laughter, pointing, while Path taunts Ganga, "You paid them too much!"
Beejax pokes a loose piece of plating on Switch's arm. "You know, I could fix that for you later," he comments before darting out to cut off one of the guards from reaching the door.
Seeing that the battle is lost, Ganga Lor also turns to leave--only to find his way blocked by a set-faced Sullustan wielding a lightsaber. He barely ducks Jebet's first vicious swing. "Can't we talk about this?" he pants as the blade hums through the air close to his face. He glances back and forth nervously, looking for an escape. Path and Nalon have by this time moved to block the door. Ganga attempts to squeeze between the crates, a half-formed plan of taking Switch hostage in his mind, but mostly just desperate to put some distance between him and the lightsaber. He can hardly move in the narrow space, however, making him an easy target.
Path, from his place by the door, watches with something like respect as the normally mild-mannered Jebet cuts down Ganga Lor with two quick slashes. Kind of a change of pace, having something like that happen in front of me and I didn't have to be frightened, he thinks wryly.
Jebet stands for a moment, panting, her lightsaber still raised, glancing around for any more enemies. Seeing that all is quiet, she deactivates the lightsaber and puts it away with shaking hands. I lost control. I struck him down in anger. Just for a moment, I gave in to the Dark Side. She tries not to look at the body of the Chevan sprawled before her, but her conscience replays the last few seconds for her anyway. There is no emotion; there is only peace, she recites to herself.
"So," Rima asks sweetly as Switch emerges from his hiding place, "does disposing of your business rival carry any additional value for you? Perhaps we could consider that payment for the transportation, and then we could consider the information exchange as in-kind both ways?"
Switch brushes some probably imaginary dust from his casing. "That sounds quite equitable to me." He kicks the body of one of the fallen traitor guards and adds, "Mental adjustment of hiring algorithms: no more Gamorreans."
Path, always practical, checks the fallen thugs for weapons and equipment. "Some decent blaster pistols," he reports, "and the boss has a datapad." He hands the datapad to Rima, who offers it to Switch. Meanwhile, Path distributes pistols to those who don't already have them. Jebet accepts one silently, eyes downcast.
After examining the datapad, Switch makes a pleased sound. "I'm sure I can use this to my advantage," he says in a satisfied tone as he stows it in a drawer.
Rima resumes her seat by Switch's desk. "We would like to collect our 'item' and take it to our transport. Where can we find it?"
"It is stored on the Blue Deck because the Imperial presence is much heavier there, discouraging some of the more repulsive element. This improves the security, but it may also increase the difficulty of extracting it."
"Yes...yes it does." Rima chews on her lip, wondering how to get into the most exclusive section of the station.
Switch spreads his hands in the droid equivalent of a shrug. "I only agreed to hold the object for Maya; I did not agree to deliver it to her. With the information as to the location of the item, our agreement has been satisfactorily discharged. The rest of it is up to you."
"You are technically correct," sighs Rima.
"The best kind," Path adds under his breath.
Rima glances at the others. "Why don't we go back to our quarters so we can discuss this privately?"
"Yes, I'm sure Switch has a great deal to clean up," Jebet says, speaking for the first time since the fight.
"Indeed. Organics are disgusting creatures," Switch says, watching the Twi'lek bodyguard drag a body toward an open shaft at the back of the chamber. "When damaged, they drip fluids."
Switch's comment makes the several of the others aware of their blood-spattered clothing. "Back through the vents, then," says Nalon as they turn to go.
"Did anyone see if they have laundry services on this station?" asks Path.
* * *
A little later, in the apartment, Rima is calling up the station map on the computer. Maya is resting on the couch, having been filled in on the results of the meeting with Switch. The others are seated about the room, with the exception of Path, who is in an adjoining room trying to wash the blood out of his borrowed coveralls.
Jebet speaks up in a small voice. "I just hope Switch's people are good enough at disposing of bodies that, um, certain distinctive injuries won't be noticed."
"They'll probably feed them to the dianogas in the compactors," says Rima without looking up.
"If I know Switch, he won't want to call attention to any goings-on in his empire unless he sees some advantage to himself in it," Maya adds. "Plus, it sounds like he's happy with you folks right now."
Path holds up the coveralls to inspect his progress and sighs. The stains are proving stubborn. "I don't want to just leave these for the owner to find when he comes back," he says with a frown.
"You could leave them to soak in some detergent," suggests Beejax.
"Back on Naboo, we clean it all out with swamp sludge," says Nalon. "Naboo not have many clothes left as a result." Path simply looks at him; he shrugs. "I did not say I was endorsing it, just mentioning."
Meanwhile, Rima has zoomed in on the relevant portion of the station map. Blue Deck is at the highest point of Sel-Zonn station, with exclusive lounges and parking for private cruisers. "I can fit in--but then we run into the trouble of a Sullustan, a Duros, a Gungan, and a Zabrak traveling together..."
"Without even a bar to go into," quips Path.
"All they need is a description of the racial composition of our group, and anyone can identify us," Beejax adds.
Path nods. "We were on camera at Gundark's anyway."
A new thought strikes Rima. "Unfortunately, since we were on camera, that means that they may have been able to get my description and learn my true identity--which means there'll be even greater interest in finding me."
"All the more reason we need to be ready to go as quickly as possible," Maya puts in. "It may take a while for the information to filter through the proper channels; maybe not all the patrols will have our descriptions yet."
"Bureaucracy grinds slow, but it can grind very fine indeed," says Rima, somewhat cryptically. "So, our options are either a quick military strike or we can disguise ourselves as best as possible. I can disguise myself again, but there are limits to how much I can disguise your species."