Hey, Dick old buddy! Have I got a deal for you! I’ve got an offer that’s going to blow your portfolio into orbit. I’m talking big money. It'll be awesome - awesome to the max!
Okay, here’s the plan: I know a guy who knows a guy who has a starship full of these man-eating space monsters. All we need to do is sneak them past quarantine and we’re looking at a fat percentage. But I know what you’re gonna say: the last fifteen times the company tried that, they got loose and ate everybody. But let me worry about that. You’re not looking at the big picture.
Last night, I got talking to a couple of tech guys over a few Babyshams and they reckon if we cover their heads, the space monsters’ll become all disorientated and docile. Kinda like camels. So, I’ve got hold of two dozen big paper bags, and I reckon that if we sneak into their hive when they’re not looking and just drop the bags over their heads, it’ll be like taking candy from a baby.
Whaddaya say? Can’t be worse than the last time, huh? - Internal email, intercepted by Service personnel.
Leighton-Wakazashi Incorporated, often referred to as LW, The Company or The Goddam Company Sold Us Out is one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the galaxy. It provides a wide range of products to the Great Powers of Earth as well as several alien species, ranging from wristwatches to starships. LW is best known, however, for its robotics and xeno-biology projects, usually because they end in a murderous rampage of some kind. In 2342, LW overtook Nile Consumer Products as the most evil corporation in the galaxy, when it went one-better than Nile and tried to make Britain pay taxes to it.
Leighton-Wakazashi as we currently know it came into existence in 2236, when Wakazashi Consumer Products merged with Leighton Merlin to form the current conglomerate. In a period of unchecked growth, the company acquired technology firm Goople, the internet itself, Allmart and Bolivia. Since then, it has grown significantly, to the point where it owns factory-planets of its own and can be said almost to be a Great Power in its own right.
The Leighton years
Throughout the early period of its amalgamation, the Anglo-American branch of LW was run by the Leighton family, a reclusive clan of curiously similar-looking middle-aged men. In 2045, the tragic robots-and-lasers-related death of the heads of the Japanese wing of the company left Lloyd Leighton in sole command. Lloyd was a dapper and suave individual, who focused his personal attention on the entertainment side of the company. He promptly embarked on a hostile takeover of Bisney-Wolfe, the multi-media giant, which ended with the Mystic Castle of Bisney being used as the setting of a brutal boardroom shootout.
Leighton subsequently launched the Andy Atom brand, with the popular cartoon show "Andy Atom versus the Freedom Hating Pinkos". Andy Atom's blend of wacky slapstick humour and paranoid fear of Communists made him a firm favourite with children and parents in the United Free States. (Suzie Squirrel, another LW character, has a huge following among the Lemming Men of Yullia, for... other... reasons). Sensing a golden opportunity, Leighton had LW annex Funland, a theme planet occupied by Blue Moon Inc, and turned it into his own personal palace of fun, where he entertained heads of state, Mafia bosses and a lot of floozies.
The Ghast War
As time went on, Lloyd Leighton became increasingly reclusive. He insisted on appearing at the beginning of every Andy Atom cartoon, where he would denounce Karl Marx and encourage children to report any relatives with a moustache larger than Leighton's own to the police. Finally, Leighton became convinced that the Red Menace had been planting microphones in his breakfast cereal, and after checking each individual rice crispie in the Proxima Centauri warehouse, he retired permanently to Funland.
Perhaps inevitably, Leighton's paranoid fear of a tyrannical, one-party state led him to seek an understanding with the Ghasts, who promised to rid him of as many Communists as he could invent. Leighton courted Number Two at the infamous "Jive With the Hive" event, following which Two promised that in return for the company's support, Leighton would live out the war in untroubled luxury. Unfortunately, Two neglected to inform Leighton that he would be doing so without any food, and soon the supply lines to Funland had been broken as the war in space disrupted the transport of goods. Within months Leighton and his prestigious guests were eating one another.
The arrival of Isambard Smith on Funland heralded the beginning of the end. By that time, Leighton and friends were few in number and virtually feral. Leighton was killed when a group of Ghasts and Yull, looking for the [REDACTED], stormed Funland and gunned him down.
Who is Anne Gaunt?
Following Leighton's violent, squalid demise, LW resolved to turn over a new leaf and present itself as a businesslike organisation. To do so, it selected a new leader unrelated to the Leighton clan: billionaire Anne Gaunt, noted non-philanthropist and author of the 19,486 page didactic novel Zeus Doesn't Give a Toss.
Since then, Gaunt has focused the company on the traditional pillars of unfettered enterprise, rigorous competition in the marketplace and really hating poor people. By denouncing everyone who was not already exceedingly rich as a scrounger, Gaunt guaranteed that the company's robotics division would be in work for centuries to come, mainly because everyone who wasn't an executive had been thrown out onto the tundra for slacking off.