Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Adriannos Tsatsos, a journalist originally from Morgrovia, was part of a large but dull survey of data for the Church of Talras to identify the most innovative regions of the world (and hence, in future, lucrative to invest in). As a result, patent filings in the year 1928 EI were tracked and traced by geographical region/country. Doctor Raykov, who had at least summaries of Tsatsos’ findings to date, shared some of them with you and which are recorded below.
Tsatsos found with surprise that many patents seemed to be coming from the North Encyron region, and this area accounted for more than half of all “significant” patents (i.e. novel kinds of machinery and/or based on new science); many of these seemed to be held in Sladava, through intermediaries clearly designed to obscure their true ownership. He became suspicious and wanted to investigate further but his superiors deemed it unimportant and declined the resources for him; however they tacitly approved him continuing in his spare time, more or less alone.
Thankfully Tsatsos had sideways connections via Doctor Raykov, an Uncle and part-owner of the Rastok Star newspaper, another Perspective Media branch. Raykov, with university connections as well, was able to help Tsatsos access more information and continue the study.
Tsatsos, over the next three years, uncovered a fair few intricacies in the patenting story. Major details known:
-When looking at company ownership rather than the company’s location, North-West Encyron (Arkalia, New Urgen, Korakova, Sladava, and Morgrovia) together accounted for 55% of the world’s important patents in the year 1928EI, despite their total population being 100 million (6% of global population) and their economies collectively representing 4% of global output. Outside North Encyron, economic output was a reasonable predictor of patent rates. [Note: percentages given below are of the North Encyron patents only]
-A Sladavan firm called “Masser, Ramanov & Sylat” controlled fully 27% of the patents. They are widely suspected to assist criminals launder ill-gotten money using their Sladavan holdings. These patents cover almost all topics; though medicinal drugs and chemical processes seemed the single largest element of the portfolio.
-Lord Tomaz Apargopolous controlled 3% of the total patents directly and a further 12% through intermediaries; and had minority stakes in a further 8% controlled by his allies, including major local Defence contractors, and the University of Rastok. In about half of cases, Prism Lord Kiorny was a minor investor alongside Apargopolous. The main focus of Apargopolous’ portfolio was metal smelting, novel alloys, compact and efficient steam engines, and more recently galvanic technology. Medicines did not seem to be a significant element of his portfolio.
-Various groups that are either known fronts for or allies of the Arkalian Navy controlled 6% of patenting activity. Their operations seemed to focus more on medicines, but metallurgy seemed a close second. Many such Naval operations probably run from Sladava so an unknown proportion of the Sladavan patents may be ultimately controlled by the navy – tracing origins of criminal groups is much harder than legitimate operations. However if true this would explain the relative economic stability of the Arkalian Naval Cities even while their piracy successes are waning; it is not clear which patents relate to which of the post-Schism naval groups.
-Roughly 30% have not been traced at all; this is more due to obscure records and lack of time than any specific roadblock preventing it.
The caveats are as follows:
-Sladavan patents appear to be intermediaries, hence could come from anywhere in the world. These represent nearly half of the total “North Encyron” filings.
-The Cyreaen Workers’ Republic has ideological issues with the awarding of patents; they did not provide information on their equivalent ‘patriotic nominations’ during either the original survey nor during attempts to follow-up later.
-Only about 15-20% of “suspicious” patents in North Encyron have been checked for what they relate to. Portfolios above assume that the samples checked were representative.
-Governments rarely patent their designs, so major types of invention – such as weaponry – may be entirely missing from the survey. Apargopolous’ close association with senior military staff suggests this may be a significant missing element.
-Roughly 20% of North Encyron patents could be traced to individuals or organisations that bore no signs of suspicious activity or attempts to conceal ownership; Tsatsos has ignored these, but acknowledges that they may simply have hidden evidence better than others.
-Tsatsos has focused solely on North Encyron because of the difficulty in obtaining widespread international records with the detail he’d need to follow up, however it is quite possible that some patents in the rest of the world might have similar origins.
Follow-up work, aimed at least partly at Apargopolous, has shown the following:
-Apargopolous and the New Urgen Military seem to work closely together yet there are no known/official projects he should be helping on, nor does there seem any clear social relationship that might have prompted it.
-Apargopolous’ total holdings would have made him a very rich man in 1928EI, though he pretends to be impoverished post-Feudal gentry who only just gets by on his inventions’ income. Some of his companies have performed so well since that he’s probably the single richest man in the country now, at least.
-Many of his companies have grown by receiving large government contracts under schemes to promote ‘local’ industrial development.