When you look for information about the country of Edgelandia, one of the things you’re bound to see prominently is the motto representing the country itself. The motto that Edgelandians all over the world feel in their bones from when they wake up, to when they go to sleep.
“One With The Strength Of Two”
This is recited in the Edgelandian pledge of allegiance every single day by adults and children alike as a show of respect to President Ned Edgewalker. Edgelandians carry this motto on their back as a way to live, a way to act, and a way to believe.
Children and adults are also taught that in the country of Edgelandia, political dissent is frowned upon, to say the least. If you dissent enough, it might warrant a visit from a man whose name is so simple it’s comical. Teachers warn children of this man in grade one, and this is where he gets his name from. The Edgelandian children simply know him as “The Bad Man.” Unfortunately for some of them, they’ll eventually find out that he’s not just a scary name with no actual person behind it.
Unofficially-officially employed by President Ned Edgewalker himself, “The Bad Man” officially has no name, no history, no family, all of the cliché aspects you can give a person to make them as invisible as possible. But of course, this is not how humans actually behave.
Born on September 9th, 2018, in the city of Ridgewood, Edgelandia, Connor Rosado lived a normal life for many years. He was a bright, intelligent young boy who participated frequently in school sports and other extracurricular activities. But as these stories tend to go, this didn’t continue.
When he was 13, Connor’s parents were arrested for dissenting against the Edgelandian government. Connor is the one who reported them. Now, before Connor came along, the Edgelandian government didn’t have their own personal hitman who could go around, quietly eliminating all those with dissenting opinions, so they’d often just be arrested. This worked, until it didn’t.
Connor’s parents were able to escape from the two police officers who came to arrest them, and then proceeded to murder both of them in cold blood. They proceeded to leave Connor behind, who was then quickly found by police arriving as backup.
Coincidentally, President Ned Edgewalker happened to be looking for someone like Connor to come along for quite some time. He was loyal to Edgelandia itself and the Edgelandian Government, was an athletic, bright young man who was still impressionable.
Young Connor was officially “adopted” by the Edgelandian Government and was trained non-stop from the get-go. Day in, day out, Connor was trained by some of best operatives Edgelandia had to offer, and slowly but surely, Connor became the best in his field. By the time he was 16, he was serving President Edgewalker himself.
Oh, he really was moulded into the best chef they’d ever seen inside of 24 Union Avenue. Until he was caught conspiring to poison President Edgewalker.
Then, he too got a visit from The Bad Man.
Case I - Jordan Ross
From inside a dimly lit home about four hours outside of Westbrook, The Bad Man is preparing his assault on the family that resides inside. Looking for anything inside the home that can be used to his advantage. Two folding chairs have been set up in the living room, and beside them sits The Ban Man’s briefcase filled with various tools, handcuffs and other pointy unpleasant things. If you were none the wiser, you might think you were walking in on a BDSM session.
So, to make you wiser, let’s back it up a bit.
“Subject is Jordan Ross, a political spokesperson. Ross is currently divorced, but has one of his two children residing with him permanently. The child in question is sixteen, and going through his internet search history, he tends to disagree with his most of his fathers’ beliefs. You will have twelve hours to complete this mission, which will begin at the end of this message. As you know, within these twelve hours you have been granted full legal immunity by President Ned Edgewalker for any crime you may commit, including murder. Get the job done. Your mission is now active.”
The Bad Man calls his supplier Desmond to arrange a meeting in a nearby café. Desmond begrudgingly agrees and drives four hours out of Westbrook to meet the infamous Bad Man in a café that looks torn straight out of the eighties. A brightly lit, light purple and cool blue neon sign illuminates the street as the sun sets behind the café. Inside, The Bad Man sees Desmond’s arrival and waits for him at a table adjacent to the counter. Next to him sits a half-full glass of root beer, along with an empty plate where a breakfast burrito once sat.
Desmond enters the café and immediately takes the seat directly across from The Bad Man.
“The car is a 2036 Edgelandian Traverse, the most popular family car in TMMGO. I dropped a few hundred horses on the inside, so she is gonna fly… and nobody will be looking at you. In the back sits a fully loaded M16A4 with 400 additional rounds of armour piercing ammunition should you run into any trouble. There’s also the usual; a pipe wrench, two black bags made from cotton, duct tape and all that other crap. And yes, I made you the garrote out of piano wire like you requested, so don’t even ask.”
The Bad Man stands up and walks to the door of the café. He turns around, and Desmond tosses him the keys to the car.
“You at least gonna give me a ride back to Westbrook?”
“Nope.” says The Bad Man, before walking out the door.
Desmond, now very disgruntled, sits in the café, going over in his head how he’d kick The Bad Man’s ass if he had truly had an opportunity and how all of that secret government training is probably just smoke and mirrors. A waitress comes to collect the plate and cup left behind, and under the plate lies an envelope addressed to Desmond that contains five thousand Edgebucks.
North of the café and another forty-eight minutes further away from the Edgelandian capital, The Bad Man arrives at his targets’ home. And would you look at that, nobody’s home. One picked lock and disarmed home security system later, The Bad Man is inside.
And now we’re back where we left off. Everything is in order for the residents to return home. The Bad Man sits down on one of the folding chairs and lights a cigarette. Savouring every last breath inward before he has to get to work, a car pulls in. He throws the cigarette on the ground and stomps it out.
“I just don’t see how it’s doable. Edgewalker is ahead of Wallace by 19 points. Don’t you think it’s time to throw in the towel?” says the son
“Edgewalker is a crook. A thief, a murderer, whatever you can think of. If there’s a crime in the book, I’m pretty positive he’s committed it. This whole war against Sivella that he’s helping fund? It would be more beneficial for every country involved if the two put aside their differences and reformed Andaba. Our defence spending is through the roof. Can you get the lights? I thought I left some on.” says the elder Ross
As the son fumbles about in the dark for a moment, Jordan Ross fixes himself a glass of whiskey.
The lights are finally on in the house. The son meets The Bad Man first, but before a word is spoken, the son is subdued by a swift blow to the head.
“I’m telling you Jason, Ned Edgewalker is a bad, bad man.” Jordan says, as he walks into the living room
“No. That’s me.”
The glass of whiskey falls from Jordan’s hand as his new reality fully grasps him. The Bad Man slowly approaches.
“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A LEGEND!” Jordan shrieks
“Yeah, a lot of parents in this country think it’s funny to tell their kids about me right before the kids go to bed. They find it less funny when I actually show up and prove their stories right… haha… Oh, good times. I’ll tell ya. Speaking of bedtime, GOOD NIGHT.”
What happens next was a blur for poor Jordan. The last thing he remembers is… is…. fear. Overwhelming fear.
About two hours later, Jordan wakes up. A single light remains on in the living room. To his left, there’s his son Jason with his head down. To his right sits his coffee table, which has been utilized by the Bad Man to prominently lay out his tools.
And right in front of him, staring him dead in the eyes, there’s The Bad Man lighting himself another cigarette.
“Don’t look at me. Look at your son. Think he’s ready to die for something he doesn’t even believe in?”
Jordan looks over at his son. Jason looks up at his father, and his face has been absolutely mauled by The Bad Man. Both of his eyes have been blackened, one of which has been closed entirely. His nose is broken, lip is cut, and he happens to be bleeding from one of his ears too.
“…you fucking MONSTER!” screams Jordan
“You see, Jordan, the only way to make someone truly understand what they’ve done, at least in my personal experience, is to hurt the ones they care about. You understand what you’ve done, don’t you?”
“I understand… that your boss is an insane psychopath. If the country could just see what was happening in this household right now, they’d start a revolt.” Jordan says weakly
“Too bad they never will.”
The Bad Man readies his garrote and positions himself behind Jordan.
“Now Jordan, you have two options before you perish. Option one, you make the stupid decision to fight the inevitable, in which case two of you will die tonight. Option two, you accept your fate and only one of you will die. Your son will be enlisted into the Edgelandian military and will be guaranteed safety… from me. Now don’t say a word back to me, your actions are going to decide what happens.”
Needless to say, Jordan chose option one. Now, I could go on and on about how there was a big fight or something like that, but you already know the outcome. The Bad Man wins. Anticlimatic, I know, but what other outcome is there? Jordan and Jason Ross are dead.
At the twelfth hour, The Bad Man makes his getaway as clean as they could ever be. His mission is complete.
Chapter I - Those Who Seek Revenge Do Not Seek Absolution
“Sorry to cut you off there James, but we have breaking news out of Westbrook. An explosion has been reported at the home of President Ned Edgewalker, 24 Union Avenue.”
It was the most successful terrorist attack in Edgelandian history. Someone snuck a bomb into 24 Union Avenue. As luck would have it, President Edgewalker was not home at the time of the explosion. But to Edgewalker, that’s not what’s important. His children were home. His children are dead. Not only that, but the cult of personality that has been carefully crafted by the Edgelandian government has, to some extent, been shattered.
A low life terrorist (or terrorists) destroyed one of the most important symbols of power to over ten billion Edgelandian citizens. Needless to say, President Edgewalker was furious, and determined to show the world how truly ruthless he was.
On the flip side of the coin, a certain organization was very pleased about this. The terrorist group known as the Edgelandian Liberation Party (or ELP for short) had pulled off their biggest victory yet. Now, President Edgewalker would know what it felt like to have his children ripped away from him, after countless Edgelandian parents have had to watch their children die in the Edgelandian Military.
Jaden Nash, the leader of the ELP, looked down on his party from his office in the ELP warehouse. Nash was a tall, slim, middle-aged black man with blue eyes and dark, short, frizzled hair. He was wearing his typical getup of a grey dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, dress pants and dress shoes.
Nash felt satisfied with himself and the success of his plan, but knew the real task was ahead. Despite even those in his own party laughing at his name when it’s brought up and simply dismissing his existence as a party joke, Nash knew The Bad Man would be coming sooner or later.
Nash turned and walked away from the window and took a seat on the couch in his office, next to his wife.
“They’re celebrating something that shouldn’t be celebrated.” Nash said in a pitiable tone
“The fact that this is necessary just to try and attempt change in this country saddens me deeply. Two children are dead.”
Nash put his face into the palm of his hands and let out a deep sigh.
Twenty five years ago, give or take a few, Jaden Nash is the General Manager of a local movie theatre. He has a good life. Makes over two hundred thousand edgebucks annually, and has a wonderful family waiting for him every night he comes home. Life is perfect, until…
“We can easily predict, here and now, the next President of Edgelandia will be Ned Edgewalker. Edgewalker, the grandson of this countries’ founding father Jonathan Edgewalker, has cruised to an easy victory over his opponent tonight, so far winning over eighty percent of the national popular vote.”
Since this moment, life in Edgelandia has changed dramatically. The population has exploded from just over two hundred million at Edgewalker’s inauguration to over ten billion in only twenty five years. A very large part of this is due to the might of the Edgelandian Military, considered the among the most powerful in the entire world in size and technological advancement, along with other nations like ally Mallandia or Sivellan rival The Chiss Descendancy. Under Edgewalker, defence spending has quadrupled and now comprises 20% of the yearly national budget. The economy has strengthened to one of the best in the world, cannabis has been legalized, the metric system has been introduced and Edgelandia signed a landmark climate change agreement with many other nations in the world.
Oh, and a few more things. Capital punishment and corporal punishment is now commonplace. Military conscription has been introduced; all Edgelandian citizens are required to spend a minimum of five years service in the Edgelandian military. Nearly seven percent of the national population dies in war annually. The government heavily monitors citizens’ behaviour and communication. Religious worship is prohibited. Public protests are prohibited. Edgelandia has claimed the legal right to use weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. And, last but not least, anything other than state media is prohibited.
Now, unless you’re a bit crazy, the negatives greatly outweigh the positives. Especially that whole “military conscription” thing that’s been causing so much outrage in the country as of late. One of Nash’s children died fighting for the Edgelandian Military. The other protested conscription and was arrested, tortured, and painfully executed by the military.
Nash, sitting on the couch, feels his wife’s hand caress his back softly.
“This is the right thing to do, Jaden. Edgewalker needs to be taken down, no matter the cost.” The wife said calmly
“Just because he took my children away doesn’t mean it’s right for me to take his away.” Nash replies
Jaden looks up at his wife. The two lock eyes for a few seconds before embracing.
“I’m going to kill him…” Nash says in a soft, somber tone
“…but he’s going to be coming for me. The Bad Man.”
“Now’s not the time for jokes, Jaden.” The wife says, holding back a laugh
“You all think I’m crazy? I’m not. Everyone in Edgewalker’s way have been “mysteriously murdered" for years upon years now. Just last night, Jordan Ross and his son were found brutally murdered in their own home.” Jaden replies
“Hon, I don’t think you’re crazy. But come on, ‘The Bad Man’? That’s just a story they teach kids nowadays to scare them straight. You’re tired, I get it, but don’t get things twisted. There’s not some guy with a name like The Bad Man running around killing Edgewalker’s political opponents. That sounds like something out of a bad comedy skit. It’s just wrong.” His wife says
Nash sighs, then stands up from the couch and returns to the window to view the celebration. He thinks of his children as he watches the crowd from above. He also knows that many families are, at this moment, going through what he went through many years ago. Nash turns back to his wife.
“We’re doing what needs to be done. Edgewalker must die… but retribution is coming for us. Edgewalker's not gonna just let this go.”