A little while later, a ventilation hatch opens in a dim corridor of sector V14. Two Gamorreans guarding a doorway at the end of the hall watch in surprise as a mixed group of assorted species tumbles out in a heap.
As the others sort themselves out, Rima detatches herself from the group and approaches the guards, followed by Jebet. "So...we're here to see Switch?" she asks uncertainly. "Maya sent us."
The guards look at each other and shrug.
"It's okay," says Jebet, making a small hand gesture. "You knew we were coming, and we're allowed."
The guards step aside, and the group enters a dilapidated storage bay. Several metal plates are missing from the floor, and a large pile of rubble fills one corner. Piles of crates form the walls of a corridor, funneling them toward a luxurious sight which contrasts oddly with the general squalor of the room: behind a large desk made of pure japor ivory wood sits a sleek black administration droid. Its bright eyes flicker occasionally as if mimicking a blinking motion. Beside it, an astromech droid burbles quietly to itself. On its other side, a burly Twi'lek in a long coat stands with his arms folded.
The black droid inclines its head, addressing Rima in a clipped voice. "Good evening, Ms. Donpol. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am 3d-4X, though I have developed some affection for the name my friends and guests have selected for me, Switch. I am pleased that you were not damaged heavily at Gundarks."
"Thank you for your solicitude. We are well. Ms. Samaris sent us to pick up an item that we believe is being stored with you."
"Would you like to sit down and discuss this over beverages? I have a suitable variety for your assorted species."
"Please." Rima takes the one seat which appears to be reserved for Switch's clients. Path stands behind her in proper bodyguard style, his eyes darting around the room and noting several figures half-concealed in the shadows. Beejax and Jebet find crates to sit on, while Nalon paces back and forth as if restless. Like Path, he has noticed the presence of others in the room, and he wants to keep an eye on them.
Once the Twi'lek has brought drinks for everyone, Switch continues. "I am actually in possession of Ms. Samaris' item; I have arranged for it to be securely stored. However, because the imperials were so interested in it, the security measures required to adequately protect this item have unfortunately increased the cost to myself."
"I see," says Rima, stroking her braid meditatively. "And what level of costs are we talking about here?"
"For the past several days of storage and the additional security arrangements, I would need a thousand credits in order to return the item to your custody."
"Allow me to confer with my colleagues for a moment."
Switch makes an accommodating gesture, and the group huddles in a circle a short distance away. "I only have half that amount," Rima tells the others in a low voice.
"I have the other half," Jebet says unexpectedly. When the others look at her in surprise, she shrugs a little sheepishly. "I don't spend much."
"I prefer not to spend my entire bankroll, though," says Rima doubtfully.
"See if you can haggle or work out a trade," Path suggests. "I want to get paid."
The group breaks up, and Rima seats herself before Switch once more. "We can pay in cash if needed, but times are tight with all these imperial terrorists and the like. Are you willing to accept payment in trade or in kind, rather than straight creds? Is there anything you need brought off-station, for example?"
"Or any repairs you need done?" adds Beejax.
"I believe that we can come to some arrangement," Switch replies. "There are two potential tasks that I might find of sufficient value to trade for. One of them is this: I am in possession of a crate of Corellian ale which needs to be delivered to Alderaan. Assuming that it would actually be delivered and not consumed, because organics have a tendency to do things like that."
"Any task that we undertake, we will undertake to the best of our ability," says Jebet firmly.
"The other possibility: my life's--not blood, but oil, if you will--is information. I need access to information from other locations. If you are willing to report back to me any interesting tidbits that you find on your journeys, I will reduce my fee by two hundred credits per informant."
"I think that would be acceptable," answers Rima. "We should be able to take your cargo, circumstances permitting--and rest assured, we will make sure it is unmolested. And certainly I would be interested in sharing information. I can't speak for my colleagues."
Most of the others murmur agreement, except for Jebet. "What exactly is the nature of the information that interests you?" she asks Switch.
"Anything that can be sold to someone else. Imperial activities, local politics, shipping accidents, people who are in places that they should not be."
Jebet lets out a long breath. "There are--categories of information that I would be willing to share," she says finally. And some of those things would be in my own best interests to have shared. Things that will cause trouble for Imperials, for example.
"Thank you very much," says Switch. "Then I believe we would be in agreement to call it even?"
"I believe we can make that deal. Does anyone object?" asks Rima. When no one does, she and Switch clink glasses to seal the bargain.
Discussion then turns to practical matters, such as where to find repulsorlifts to aid in transporting the heavy items. This is interrupted by the sound of blaster fire in the hallway outside. The door slides open, and a massive Chevan steps in over the bodies of the two Gamorrean guards. Behind him are several heavily-armed thugs of various species, blasters drawn and pointed at the group by the desk.
"So!" the Chevan bellows. "You making deals and not givin' me my cut, huh, Switch?"
Switch's voice sounds almost amused. "Ah, Ganga Lor. We meet again. I shall look forward to your extermination."
"Right! Turn him into scrap, boys!"
Switch dives behind the desk as the blaster bolts begin flying.