Speeding down the alley, Ricky was grateful for his years of playing soccer as he dodged around heaps of trash
and leapt over discarded pieces of furniture like they were defending players trying to tackle him. He felt a slight
twinge of pain in his ankle as he ran, but ignored it. He'd been hurt worse than this once during a playoff match and
had stayed in for the entire second half of the game, even scoring a goal. Afterward, he'd found that he’d fractured
his tibia and had to sit out for the rest of that year and part off the next, but it had shown him his threshold for
Grateful that this pain wasn't even close to what he'd felt that day and that he hadn't been hurt worse, he
offered up a quick,” Thank you," to whatever gods might be listening. Increasing his speed, his mind drifted to the
events of the past few days as he examined his actions in the hope that he could find a way out of this mess.
As his feet hit the ground in a steady rhythm, he thought to himself, I am so screwed.
Ricky knew that he was asking for trouble when he gave a speech at the university the previous day revealing
corruption in the government and how the president had seized control of the country in a coup. He knew about
the Grou ps, and how they made anyone who spoke out against the current regime disappear, but his fear of
retaliation was overcome by his anger at the criminal injustices committed against his family and the systematic
murder perpetrated by the president and his lackeys against so many of his country men. He felt that he had to
stand up for his rights and the rights of others regardless of the outcome. Letting his frustration vent, he railed at
President Gomes for ten minutes from the podium he had forcefully commandeered during a student debate,
stating specific instances of corruption and vice that the county's leader and his Peoples Reform Party were
The crowd gasped in shock as Ricky started out by relating how Gomes had set up the much touted National
Healthcare Plan with taxpayer's money, and then proceeding to raid its coffers with the help of his political cronies.
What had been designed to provide the poor with low cost medical care for the next decade, create countless jobs
for the unemployed and as a boost to the struggling economy, was bankrupted by Gomes and his worthless
associates within a year. Not just relating the rumors and hearsay that were common after the collapse of the NHP,
Ricky gave strong evidence to back up his accusations. He st ated the names of those involved, how they embezzled
the money, how it w as diverted to overseas accounts, how the crime was covered up, and even how much
President Gomes personally profited from the scheme.
Five-hundred million dollars.
But it went much deeper than that, Ricky told those gathered. Gomes didn't steal all the money destined for
the NHP, just enough to cause it to fail. He didn't crash the N HP lo get rich, though he had a use for the money, the
collapse was simply the catalyst that would set the stage for his ultimate goal; total control of the country.
In the three months following the failure of the NHP, unemployment, which had hovered around fifteen
percent for the previous two years, gradually climbed to over thirty-five percent. For some of the minorities in the
country, it even went as high as sixty percent. This w as due to the fact that along with the healthcare workers who
suddenly found themselves out of work, related businesses that stood to profit from the healthcare plan were also
hit by a loss in potential revenue. Layoffs in all sectors of the already fragile economy occurred, and companies that
planned to expand suddenly had to let workers go just to keep their doors open. With fewer people having money
to spend on anything except essentials, even more businesses followed suit by initiating layoffs as their sales
To further aggrav ate the situation, before the collapse of the N HP, the country 's economy had already been
volatile due to a deep recession so the government was borrowing huge amounts from foreign banks to keep it
stable. Now, due to the high level of unemployment lessening the amount of money coming in from taxes, there
wasn't enough cash on hand to make payments on the country 's loans. This combined with the sudden influx of
people filing for unemployment and the resulting drop in the GNP tipped the scales and caused massive defaults
across the board. This then resulted in a world-wide loss of faith in the county's economy and the lowering of their
credit rating. Inflation skyrocketed, interest rates tripled, and the domino effect rippled throughout the entire
nation's financial system. No one was left untouched by the fallout.
Out of work and struggling, the people screamed for answers and relief. President Gomes made an
appearance on television where be blamed the whole mess on terrorists and outside agitators and vowed to
personally conduct a full investigation, promising that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against the people