ALAN: Welcome to Empire Report. I’m Alan Nuevo.
BECK: And I’m Beck Russum. Today’s trip across the Empire takes us to New Austin where Victoria Hutchins has the latest details on preparations for CitizenCon 2948.
ALAN: But first, an update to the ongoing controversy in Fora. Marcus Carino, the leader of a local militia group known as the Defenders of the Free, spoke publicly for the first time since being accused of running an unofficial Customs checkpoint that led to the near-fatal shooting of four civilians. We go now to a vid of his comments from earlier today in Shoel.
[ Marcus Carino stands amidst a scrum of reporters before his Drake Buccaneer outside the Shoel Advocacy office. ]
MARCUS CARINO: The Common Law Initiative enacted in 2526 guarantees ‘fundamental personal freedoms’, which includes the right to defend yourself. That’s all we’re doing here, because the government sure isn’t. Look at the system’s crime data. Look at the current threat level. Fora’s getting worse each and every year, and I’m not waiting any longer for the UEE to do something about it.
Far as I’m concerned, the government’s guilty of dereliction of duty for not defending the residents of this system. More contraband passes between the UEE and Banu Protectorate here than anywhere else in the Empire. Known criminals and smugglers openly break the law each and every day, and none of them face justice. All they get is a damn smile and a wave coming through Customs.
It’s clear that the current enforcement mechanism in this system is broken, and the Defenders aim to fix it. I stand by our right to operate these checkpoints to defend the interests of Fora’s residents.
[ Back to Alan and Beck. ]
BECK: The alleged incident occurred last Thursday around 16:30 SET. Carino and other members of the Defenders of the Free were patrolling the area around the jump point when Giorgio Hwang’s ship emerged from interspace. According to witnesses, Carino and other militia members opened fire on Hwang’s ship without provocation, leading to the death of two crew members and seriously injuring Hwang himself. When local law enforcement arrived to secure the scene, they discovered that Hwang’s vessel was carrying several crates of stolen military weaponry in smuggling holds.
ALAN: The aggressive actions taken by Carino and the Defenders of the Free have been widely criticized by some but defended by others. Both the Advocacy and Customs Bureau claim to be monitoring the situation and weighing their options as an investigation continues into the legality of the attack. Carino claims that they scanned Hwang’s ship and found signs of contraband which led to the attack, however they have been unwilling to produce proof. We will continue to update this story as it develops.
BECK: Sataball fans across the Empire were stunned today when an anonymous source leaked comms between Terra Gryphons’ superstar Benedetto Bodie and members of a New Babbage drug syndicate. The messages explicitly discussed both the purchase of illegal drugs and how to beat drug tests administered by sataball’s Banned Substance Task Force. Here to discuss the developing situation is Colt Legrande.
COLT: Sad day for sataball, Beck. Benedetto is a certified superstar in the sport. To hear this news came as quite the shock to a lot of people.
BECK: What has Bodie’s response been so far?
COLT: Bodie has released a statement vehemently denying the allegations and the authenticity of the comms. It seems, though, that the Gryphons are approaching this whole thing cautiously. Bodie was missing from practice today, and Gryphons’ manager Maiko Shapiro refused to comment on either Bodie’s status or his participation in Sunday’s big match.
BECK: How is the league handling the allegations against Bodie? Is there any indication that disciplinary action may be imminent?
COLT: I spoke with Eldon Agawa, head of the league’s Banned Substance Task Force, who said that they will be opening an investigation into the matter to verify the facts of the case and determine if any league rules have been violated. Not only that, but word is the Advocacy will also be investigating this is a criminal matter. You really hate to see this happen to a player in their prime.
BECK: Is there anything we do know for sure?
COLT: One fact that I can currently verify is that Bodie did spend time in New Babbage this off-season. On the books he was there discussing a potential sponsorship deal with microTech, but that leaves a whole lot of room for what he may have been doing off the books. In the wake of this story breaking, several vids have surfaced of Bodie reportedly dancing at an exclusive club rumored to be popular with a less than savory crowd.
BECK: This wouldn’t be the first time that a vacation in New Babbage became a problem for a sataball player. The Stanton Knights’ Myles Mason was suspended for part of the 2945 season after being found in a New Babbage hotel lobby riding out an intense maze trip.
COLT: That’s right. The city’s growing popularity as an up and coming tourist destination for the young and wealthy has definitely drawn its fair share of players looking to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, it seems a few too many are crossing a line and partying just too hard.
BECK: Back to Bodie, if the comms turn out to be authentic, what kind of punishment could he face?
COLT: As far as the league is concerned, if Agawa’s investigation determines that Bodie both used a banned substance and tried to hide it, then he could be looking at a full season suspension.
Of course, talking about something versus actually doing it is a very different thing. Even if these comms prove to be authentic, Bodie could argue that he never went through with it and force the league to prove that he did. If he chooses to take a combative stance with the league, who knows how long this could drag out. Really though, it may end up being his teammates and fans that are punished if he’s not able to play.
BECK: Thanks, Colt.
ALAN: We need to take a quick break. Don’t go anywhere, because when we return Victoria Hutchins will join us from New Austin with some exclusive details about next week’s CitizenCon 2948 celebration, including a sneak peek at two new exclusive Big Benny flavors that will only be available at the event.