1 The Naboo Plasma War : Episode I

With the lead pirate frigate smeered across the front of my Lucrehulk, and the rest suddenly very apologetic about the "misunderstanding," I took a moment to reflect on my current situation. I was hardly the wealthiest captain within the ranks of the Lucrehulk, but the mere fact that I commanded one of the massive titans gave me a great deal of authority, both official and otherwise. People that technically outranked me in the Trade Federation Hierarchy tended to be leery of offending a Lucrehulk captain, the competition for earning such a prestigious, and often lucrative position was fierce. Even if you held a position of authority over a captain, the fact that they had earned such a position meant that someone high up the ladder held their competency in high regard. More often than not, a Lucrehulk Captain had the unspoken backing of the Viceroy himself.

The massive ships were an equally massive expense. The Trade Federation wanted to make damn sure that the expense was worth it.

Unusually, I had not earned my captaincy for my prowess in commerce. Not that I was incompetent, I could turn a fair profit given a stable route, but my talents raised in more practical fields. For instance, engineering.

The OOM series of battledroids were a prime example of the fruits of the lowest-bidder mentality. They were cheap, and that was all that could be said about them. I had found a way to drastically improve upon the design without impacting the costs in the slightest. The hardware was still crap, but the software? Granted, the current iteration of OOM battledroids barely had the processing power to function as an autoturret. Maybe you could squeeze in a static, unchanging patrol route, and having it stand still while firing, but that was it. Everything else came from a centralized mainframe, and an admittedly impressive communications network.

While my memories of a past life were sometimes difficult to remember, after all, it had been a few decades since I had recovered said memories as a child, I was able to take inspiration from a video game I was pretty sure was called Mass Effect. Or possibly Ass Effect, but I was pretty sure it was the former, no matter how persistently the latter cropped up mentally. Namely, the idea of a distributed intelligence.

Despite my memories of the Star Wars galaxy as a media series, the Trade Federation was pretty even handed to it's employees, and had a vested interest in settling internal disputes fairly. It was people outside the Trade Federation it treated like shit and ripped off. They protected the patents of the OOM battledroids zealously, a few attempts to rip off the design had ended... poorly. However, when I had wiped a group of droids of their programming, and rewrote it from the ground up, the Federation was more than happy to give me a patent on the new code, since I could prove it wasn't derived in anyway from the original code. Hilariously, Republic copyright laws and digital rights in general were in excellent shape compared to what I remembered from my past life. I don't know whether that said good things about the Republic, or bad things about my previous life.

As a distributed intelligence, the OOM-series battledroids grew more intelligent the more of them there were. Given how easy they were to mass produce, while it took a lot of them to get competency out of them, once you got them up to a reasonable intelligence, that same flaw also meant it took a lot of causalities to dumb them back down. Even better, the central control mainframes still had a use with the new code. While they weren't necessary, they provided a massive boost to their available processing power. The OOM command variants also saw use as minor processing hubs, and had superior communications equipment that allowed them to network a larger amount of droids.

Sadly, not many within the Federation were willing to spend the extra expense to replace their factory default coding, and Baktoid Combat Automata was similarly unwilling to pay for a licensing agreement from me, as they'd judged the Trade Federation as a whole would be unhappy with the corresponding price increase. Fortunately for me, they didn't try ripping off my code, nor developing their own version. Since I worked for the Federation, there was no guarantee that the TF's internal arbitrators would side with them in any patent dispute, no matter how much money they threw at the problem. That was a precedent nobody, not even Baktoid themselves wanted. No telling when it'd come around and bite you in the ass, after all. Open season if one of the sides wasn't a Trade Federation member though.

Still, I made a fair amount of money, and even got companies outside the Federation interested in acquiring a license. A few droid manufacturers on Corellia, one of the major Kuati wanted a license for a custom built security contingent. Oh, and Sienar Fleet Systems was interested in applying the concept to starfighters. I liked them, their offer came with giving me a few wings of the "D-13 Coordinated Starfighters" they produced with it, so long as I forwarded them some data on how well they performed so they could make improvements.

Something about the arrangement niggled at the back of my mind, I felt like there was something I was forgetting about Sienar, but I'd given up on trying to remember. It'd either come to me, or it wouldn't.

I didn't quite have enough money to outright purchase my own private Lucrehulk, but I came close. Given how I had acquired the money, the Federation directorate had done a background check to ensure I was a competent ship captain, then offered me captaincy of a Federation-owned Lucrehulk, wanting to see what I'd do with the design as an engineer. They had been surprised when one of the first things I had done was take advantage of the massive internal volume to install more powerful shield generators; after all, the Lucrehulk was already one of the most heavily shielded ships in the galaxy. After the first time I had used my overpowered shields to ram a pirate ship without suffering any damage though... apparently the idea of being so heavily protected that you could get away with simply plowing through hostile ships and smearing their remains all over your shields appealed to fundamental parts of the Neimoidian mindset.

In other words, they were very happy with me. Enough so that when Nute Gunray took power as Viceroy and disbanded the Directorate, he had even sold the Lucrehulk I captained to me outright at a discount, provided I come up with something as equally as impressive.

When Gunray had contacted me, practically singing my praises to the stars, I had been surprised to learn that the Trandoshans had built a giant statue of me on Trandosha in recognition of me apparently giving their nonexistent economy a jump-start and making Trandoshans a byword for excellent, and reputable mercenary service. Said statue was matched by one on Kashyyyk, in recognition of not only outright killing the Wookie slave trade and convincing the Trandoshans that hunting slavers was more profitable and honorable than being slavers, but also incidentally kicking the Wookie economy into overdrive, as Kashyyyk became the destination for thrill seekers across the galaxy thanks to its reputation as the ultimate sporting destination for Trandoshans.

I mean, I was trying to do good in the Galaxy, don't get me wrong, but when I delved into that mess, I was just trying to fill my Lucrehulk with well trained, loyal Trandoshan soldiers. I figured they had just as much of a reputation as dangerous fighters as Wookies, but a lot easier to hire in large numbers. Damn.

Naturally, Nute Gunray was primarily impressed by the fact that both sides had agreed to contracts with the Trade Federation. The Federation had been trying to get an agreement for exporting Wroshyr wood for centuries, and I had apparently thrown open the door. The wookies had proven extremely savvy negotiators, and the Federation hadn't been able to set a quota; the wookies could export as little or as much as they felt like, but the TF did get exclusivity, and there was a huge demand for Wroshyr wood among the opulent elite of the Galaxy. The Trandoshan agreement was less impressive, Trandosha simply didn't have anything of value beyond the species itself, but they did get a mercenary company started as a Federation affiliate, which meant the Federation earned a cut of their profits.

I was, all in all, doing fairly well for myself. Naturally, my own success bit me in the ass, when I was selected as one of three Lucrehulk captains to participate in the blockade of Naboo.


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